A bipartisan coalition of privacy groups is calling on Congress to end controversial surveillance programs that monitor foreign Internet traffic and collect American phone records, saying the revelations, “if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights.”
Stop Watching Us., which includes Internet groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, reddit, and the American Civil Liberties Union, has created a website for Americans to sign a petition expressing concern and calling for a special congressional committee to investigate the National Security Agency’s and Federal Bureau of Investigation’s phone and online data collection programs. The group has the backing of the conservative group Freedom Works and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
“This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy,” the coalition writes in an open letter to Congress. “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 groups call on Congress to:
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;
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;
Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.
Among the other supporters is filmaker Laura Poitras, who secured bylines on stories about the surveillance programs in both the Washington Post and the Guardian, and actor John Cusack.