The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. - Fourth Amendment, US Constitution
This Fourth of July, groups of concerned individuals will be taking to the streets in dozens of cities across the United States in support of the Fourth Amendment. According to the official website, Restore the Fourth aims to end all forms of unconstitutional surveillance of digital communications by the United States government. The campaign calls particular attention to PRISM, a recently-revealed project of the National Security Agency that allows the government broad access to the Internet traffic and other electronic communications of many users – including many Americans. The Restore the Fourth movement has an active reddit community that is working cooperatively to organize protests across the country.
There are many ways to protest unconstitutional surveillance – including signing onto the Stop Watching Us site and calling your elected officials – but physical protests can be particularly effective at demonstrating public outrage. We’re glad to see the Restore the Fourth movement organizing protests across the country against unlawful NSA spying, and we hope these protests push elected officials to respond to the American people’s growing discontent with dragnet domestic surveillance.
On the officials website, the Restore the Fourth movement asserts that the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance is an affront to the public – even if individuals have nothing in particular to hide. It notes that, "Privacy is not an admission of guilt...The average person expects privacy in many situations, including but not limited to using the bathroom, writing a diary, or going on a date with a spouse. A reasonable expectation of privacy exists in such situations because the events occurring are personal, intimate, and not the business of any other party, government or otherwise." The site also questions whether programs such as PRISM are effective or even useful in stopping terrorist attacks, noting, "there is little to no evidence of any terrorist attacks that have directly been foiled as a result of PRISM."
The campaign is a non-partisan, grassroots movement not directly affiliated with any nonprofit. However, the campaign has committed to standing with EFF and the rest of the Stop Watching Us coalition in demanding transparency and meaningful reform to domestic surveillance programs.
EFF is sending a representative to the San Francisco protest; please stop by Civic Center at 11 AM on July 4th to pick up EFF stickers, hear us talk about the issues with dragnet surveillance, and show your opposition to the NSA’s unconstitutional spying program.
Check out the list of planned protests. The site also lists several locations where rallies have not yet been organized. If there is no event planned for your own city, you can set one up and tell the Restore the Fourth organizers. And if you are planning a protest, check out the Bill of Rights Defense Committee's guide to protesting NSA surveillance.
Numerous websites (including EFF) are planning to show solidarity for this grassroots movement by displaying the Fourth Amendment on our homepage on July 4th. We’ll have an embeddable graphic available soon; check back in the next couple days.