Published   June 11, 2013

Scores of Privacy Groups to Government: Halt Secret Spying

ACLU of California Speaking Up Against NSA Surveillance Program

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The ACLU of California joins 85 other leading privacy groups, academic institutions, and businesses to call on Congress to take immediate action to halt the secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs. See letter below and take action today!

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 a career intelligence officer 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, emails, 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 and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that 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:

1. 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;

2. 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;

3. Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

4Chan, Access, Advocacy for Principled Action in Government, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of California, American Library Association, Amicus, Association of Research Libraries, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, BoingBoing, Breadpig, Calyx Institute, Canvas, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights, Center for Media and Democracy, Center for Media Justice, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, CorpWatch, CREDO Mobile, Cyber Privacy Project, Daily Kos, Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Digital Fourth, Downsize DC, DuckDuckGo, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Entertainment Consumers Association, Fight for the Future, Floor64, Foundation for Innovation and Internet Freedom, Free Press, Free Software Foundation, Freedom of the Press Foundation, FreedomWorks, Friends of Privacy USA, Get FISA Right, Government Accountability Project, Greenpeace USA, Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA), Internet Archive, isen.com, LLC, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Law Life Culture, Liberty Coalition, May First/People Link, Media Alliance, Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia, Mozilla, Namecheap, National Coalition Against Censorship, New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia.org, Participatory Politics Foundation, Patient Privacy Rights, People for the American Way, Personal Democracy Media, PolitiHacks, Privacy and Access Council of Canada, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (Ottawa, Canada), Public Knowledge, Privacy Activism, Privacy Camp, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Privacy Times, reddit, Represent.us, Rights Working Group, Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association, RootsAction.org, Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic, Sunlight Foundation, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, TechFreedom, The AIDS Policy Project, Philadelphia, TURN-The Utility Reform Network, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, World Wide Web Foundation, and William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI)