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Restore the 4th! 'Turning Point' for Opposing Mass Gov't Surveillance

Protests online and on the streets push back against violation of 4th Amendment

Andrea Germanos

In over a hundred cities across the U.S. and on major websites this July 4th holiday, a grassroots movement is pushing back against newly revealed dragnet spying by the NSA in what may be a "turning point for opposing mass government surveillance."

The newly launched movement, Restore the Fourth, explains that it

aims to end all forms of unconstitutional surveillance of digital communications by the United States government. One specific program Restore the Fourth seeks to discontinue is known as PRISM, which is directed by the National Security Agency.

The spying programs are a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the group says.

But Thursday isn't just about a protest, organizers explained in an "ask me anything" session on Reddit yesterday:

our rallies/protests are to gain support and visibility for our goals. Making the Fourth Amendment a "Hot Button Issue" come election time is well within the realm of possibility. The hope is to make any opposition to the idea of privacy "Political Suicide"

Helping to make those goals visible online are web heavyweights including WordPress, Reddit, and Mozilla, and digital rights groups like EFF which, The Hill reports, "will display anti-NSA spying messages on their home pages. They will also direct people to the site CallForFreedom.org, where supporters can donate money to help fund TV ads against the intelligence programs and press for action from lawmakers."

“The NSA programs that have been exposed are blatantly unconstitutional, and have a detrimental effect on free speech and freedom of press worldwide," Tiffiniy Cheng of the Internet Defense League and Fight for the Future said in a statement.  "This is going to be our biggest protest since SOPA, and it should be no surprise. You can’t disregard people’s privacy, invade their personal lives on a daily basis, and not expect them to fight back.”

Explaining the importance of protests, Cheng and Evan Greer write:

Today's protests are a turning point for opposing mass government surveillance. They are the beginning of a large outcry that will continue until we hear real answers and real accountability. We liken today to the first protests that got us to the SOPA blackout and ultimately, the shelving of SOPA and PIPA; American Censorship Day took place 2 months before the blackout and was responsible for making SOPA a household term. It took a lot to defeat SOPA, but it was just one law. What we're fighting today is something much bigger and more insidious. We're fighting a broken government that has systematically violated our rights, and turned the Internet into something it was never intended to be -- a surveillance network for the government to observe the private lives of anyone in the world. [...]

America's founders *hated* oppressive British surveillance. Understanding that privacy was necessary to many of the basic rights granted to us in the Constitution, they established the 4th Amendment. But Snowden's revelations show another America: a spy state that intercepts the emails and phone calls of innocent people. What the NSA is doing is criminal. It's immoral. And it goes against everything this country is supposed to be about. Scholars of privacy and experts on intelligence and surveillance agree.

That's why we're taking over the streets, the internet, and the airwaves today, and that's evidence that the people's passion for the 4th Amendment is still alive and well. Those responsible for this illegal and anti-democratic surveillance will have to answer to the public one way or another.

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