• By about 12:30 p.m. Silicon Valley time, the effort had logged more than 47,000 phone calls and more than 101,000 emails to U.S. lawmakers. Websites including those of Tumblr, Mozilla and thousands of other companies and advocacy groups are encouraging (and enabling, via links from their sites) people to contact their legislators, in part to voice their support for the USA Freedom Act, which would make changes to the wide-reaching surveillance tactics enabled by the Patriot Act.
• Apple, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter and others signed an open letter to President Obama and Washington: “This summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”
In a blog post today, Google Public Policy Vice President Susan Molinari specifically mentions the company’s support of the USA Freedom Act, and calls for additional action: “Congress should update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require governmental entities to obtain a warrant before they can compel online companies to disclose the content of users’ communications.”
• What do Bay Area legislators have to do with it? “I stand in unity with the growing chorus of citizens across the country who want secretive mass data collection and surveillance activities against Americans ended,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, an original sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, in a statement.
We’ve been in touch with the offices of a couple of Democratic legislators from San Francisco for comment and are waiting to hear back. Sen. Dianne Feinstein last year wrote the FISA Improvements Act, a bill opposed by organizers of today’s protest, who say it promises a fake fix to rein in NSA spying. Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has been criticized for her support of the Obama administration’s defense of the spying programs as part of the anti-terrorism fight.
Screen grab from the protest’s website