Are you upset over the recent revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been running a wide scale domestic surveillance program on American citizens? You are not alone as 86 groups, organizations, and websites recently launched StopWatching.US. Quite simply put they want the NSA and the government to Stop Watching US.
The initiative is being spearheaded by Mozilla, along with support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Reddit, FreedomWorks, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Internet Archive, NameCheap, 4Chan, and countless other well known web entities and groups. The website aims to tell our elected members of Congress we don't like the fact the NSA has been monitoring every phone call placed in the United States. Visitors of the site sign their name, email, address, and ZIP and an email is automatically sent to your two Senators and Congressman that represents your district.
The message seems to have resonated with many people since at the time I wrote this post Stop Watching US has 150,000 signatures. (Yes, I was one of those signatures.) That means there have been generated 450,000 emails to Congress from the petition. Since the Stop Watching US initiative and website was only launched a few days ago on June 10th, that is pretty impressive. I can only imagine that as more people start to learn about the initiative and petition it will rack up several million signatures and generate many more emails to Congress by the end of the month. The Mozilla FireFox startpage now has a link to StopWatching.US to encourage signatures.
What I find interesting is that the message is strong and clear across party lines. It is not everyday that you see groups like the ACLU, MoveOn and numerous other liberal organizations backing something along with FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group. It's clear a lot of people feel uneasy and they want their voice to be heard.
Do you want the government to Stop Watching US too? Then I encourage you to sign the petition and please share with your friends, family, and anyone you know that cares about privacy and reining in government surveillance which has clearly gotten out of hand.
To keep updated with the Stop Watching US intitivat you can follow the Stop Watching US Twitter feed. I would also encourage you to sign-up for updates from the EFF.
Here is the open letter to Congress;
Dear Members of Congress,
We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.
The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by an intelligence contractor showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.
Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other “identifying information” for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.
This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.
We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:
- Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
- Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
- Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.