Coalition calls for changes to NSA’s ‘illegal’ spying

Nearly 90 civil liberties groups and Internet companies have teamed up to demand that Congress rein in the NSA spying that came to light last week.

In an open letter to Congress sent Monday, the group — which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU, along with Bay Area-based Mozilla and reddit — called the surveillance illegal and asked for a congressional investigation.

“This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy,” the letter said.

The group has also launched an online petition, Stop Watching Us.

Last week, the Guardian reported that the NSA has been collecting Verizon call data for years, and the Washington Post wrote about a program called Prism that involves surveillance of online communications provided by big tech companies, including Silicon Valley’s Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo. The government confirmed the spying, saying it is needed in the fight against terrorism; the companies deny direct involvement.

Edward Snowden, a former CIA tech contractor, came forward Sunday as a source of the leaks that led to the reports. He said  U.S. surveillance is destroying “privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world.” He had most recently worked for government contractor Booz Allen, which announced today that it has fired Snowden — who is being hailed as a hero by some and a traitor by others. The U.S. is said to be preparing to charge Snowden.

To rein in the surveillance, the letter urges Congress to reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, as well as the FISA Amendments Act. The group also asks that “public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance” to be held accountable.


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  • Vickie

    I was dismayed to see the news item about the over million square feet “data farm” the NSA is building out west. It has the capacity to store equivalent of trillions of DVD’s. It is staggering to see how controling our government is without our consent.

  • Tim Thompson

    Patrick Henry, 1775:

    “They tell us that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Three million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.”

    US Citizen, 2013:

    “They tell us that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when the NSA shall be stationed in every house? Three hundred million people, armed in the cause of freedom, are invincible by any force which our government can send against us.”

  • Robert

    He is definitely a hero. “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

  • Daniel Winchester

    Seriously, who didn’t know that the NSA did this type of surveillance? We just didn’t know how. But now that criminals and terrorist have a better understanding of how it works, maybe they can plan their attacks better.

  • Gary

    It’s not illegal or unconstitutional unless or until the warrants issues by a duly authorized court of law are deemed unconstitutionally issued. And that takes the US Supreme Court to decide….of course there is always attempting to challenge provisions of the Patriot Act which provides the provisions being used. Can’t eat your cake and have it to….

  • jabberwolf

    Its against the 4th amendment! PERIOD. You cannot have a blanket warrant.

    Also phone records are protected as PRIVATE PERSONS DATA !

    The Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006 says that its PRIVATE DATA and cannot be attained without permission by the user or by a specific warrant!

    OBAMA AND NSA’s policy isn’t for debate – its ILLEGAL !!

  • george orwell

    It is VERY bad for business.

    Some people dont care.

    Many people care a lot.

    It will make people not want to use Facebook, Google, Yahoo etc.

    AND If I were Facebook I would look to relocate to a country where they dont have to give the data to the NSA.

    India – lots of engineers
    Iceland – cold for the servers.

    I mean what is keepihg them in the valley if they have import the engineers anyway?

  • Alan MacDonald

    Digital Blackwater’s use of WATSON for SGE

    As disturbing as the predictable link between the private (corporatization) of intelligence/surveillance of American citizens by the integrated;corporate, financial, militarist, media, extra-legal and politicalSGE (Secret Global Empire) is, based on Tim Shorrock’s “Spies for Hire” and interview on “Democracy Now” prefaces,the real and unmistakable signal that we are totally fucked will bethe coming disclosure that the NSA is using the IBM ‘Watson’

    Artificial Intelligence computer system (which was pleasantly
    propagandized on the TV quiz show “Jeopardy!”) and that will be
    the proof positive that we are in mortal ‘Jeopardy’ by the principled
    AI community’s worst nightmare — a likely malevolent AI
    intelligence in the process of what’s called a “Hard Take-off”
    being in control of all our human life supporting information.

    When (not ‘if’) the fact is established that ‘Watson’ is being applied by the
    so-called private/public ‘partnership’ of the supposed USG/NSA and
    the disguised but actually subsuming SGE, then we will know
    definitively that the ruling Empire has been given absolute control
    of all of the ‘subjects’ of this undiagnosed Secret Global Empire.

    Unfortunately, the entirely greedy and deceitful ruling-elite of the SGE has well proven already (with such products as cigarettes, oil, nuclear weapons, CDOs, CDSs and all manner of highly dangerous but profitable
    (‘innovative products’) that they have neither the basic humanistic
    empathy (nor the human intelligence) to avoid the mortal pitfall of
    executing actions (in secrecy) with business models that have massive
    ‘negative externality costs’ to any and all people in the world, and
    that the extant SGE will almost certainly continue on this same
    unsustainable course with accelerated glee.

    Best luck and love to the fast expanding ‘Occupy the
    Empire’ educational and non-violent revolutionary movement against this deceitful and disguised Secret Global EMPIRE, which can’t so easily be identified as wearing RedCoats, Red Stars, nor funny looking Nazi helmets —- quite yet!

    Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality

    Alan MacDonald

    We don’t merely have a gun/fear problem, or an MIC
    problem, or an ‘Austerity’ problem, or an expanding wars problem, or
    a ‘drone assassinations’ problem, or a vast income & wealth
    inequality problem, or a Wall Street ‘looting’ problem, or a Global
    Warming and environmental death-spiral problem, or a domestic tyranny
    NDAA FISA spying problem, or, or, or, or …. ad nauseam — we have
    a hidden EMPIRE cancerous tumor which is the prime CAUSE of all
    these ‘symptom problems’.

    “If your country is treating you like sh*t, and bombing abroad, look carefully — because it may not be your country, but a Secret Global Empire only posing as your former country.”