Fourth of July Anti-NSA-Snooping Rallies Coming to a City Near You

Supporters are currently planning nationwide protests in over 100 locations

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Correction appended: July 3, 2013, 10:58 p.m. E.T.

Every night, thousands of Internet users come home from work and hop onto Reddit, a discussion-based website. But lately some of the users who log on at 8 p.m. haven’t been perusing the site just for fun. They’re coming in hopes of fighting government surveillance.

These nightly meetings take place under the “Restore the Fourth” section of Reddit, where supporters are currently planning nationwide protests in over 100 locations on July 4. Restore the Fourth — a double entendre that invokes both the nation’s founding and Fourth Amendment privacy rights — also created a website that will serve as a central hub for supporters in planning these rallies.

“Reddit didn’t take well to all the information about the news leak as far as NSA goes,” says Michael Reed, Restore the Fourth’s director of communications. “So we started organizing there, and the next thing you know, we’re organizing in over 100 cities and it’s only getting bigger.” Although the group first formed at the beginning of last month, its Reddit page has quickly gathered over 19,000 subscribers. In just the first three days of the site’s launch, over half a million visitors accessed their page, Reed says.

(MORE: Snowden’s Worst-Case Scenario: What if No Countries Take Him?)

“The idea is to take this energy that we’ve seen online and turn that into physical protests around July 4th,” says Rainey Reitman, the activism director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

So far, supporters are planning rallies in cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Boston. Reed expects thousands will turn out, possibly as many as 20,000 0r more. Organizers say the largest protest will be held in Washington, D.C., where they invited high-profile supporters like Senator Rand Paul, the Republican from Kentucky, to speak. Although Senator Paul is unable to attend the rally, last week he reached out to Restore the Fourth with a recorded video message via YouTube to express his support. Reed says Restore the Fourth plans to play the video at the protest.

“The Fourth Amendment ought to be defended,” Paul said. “I think really the right to privacy is one of the new fights of this century.” The Kentucky Senator also said he would continue to lead the fight against the government’s surveillance programs, which he called “a tragedy.”

The D.C. rally will have several guest speakers, including NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake, Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s Shahid Buttar and president of the Libertarian Party Carla Howell. (On Facebook, more than 200 people have signed up to attend the D.C. event.)

According to their press release on June 18, Restore the Fourth hopes the demonstrations will achieve three things. First, the group calls on Congress to reform the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, so that blanket surveillance of Internet and phone records of U.S. residents is prohibited. Second, they demand the creation of a special committee to further investigate domestic spying. And finally, Restore the Fourth wants public officials who are responsible for the programs to be held accountable.

David Segal, the executive director of online activist organization Demand Progress, believes these grassroots rallies will grab the attention of lawmakers. “As Congress members are spending more and more time outside of D.C. over the summer, we can steer people to various town halls and other public events where lawmakers will be present,” Segal says. He also plans to forward information about the local July 4 rallies to his site’s 1.5 million members.

(MORE: Putin to Offer Snowden Asylum, but With a Catch)

However, Segal does caution that the movement has been very decentralized, and that some rallies “will be more robust than others.” There are some other warning signs that the movement may not be as strategically decisive as organizers hope. Restore the Fourth supporters on Reddit set up a fundraising campaign to purchase a full-page ad in the New York Times, but failed to meet the $100,000 price tag. By the time their deadline was up, the group could only muster a total of $2,943.

Polls also show that public outrage over NSA monitoring is not all that overwhelming. According to a Washington Post–Pew Research Center poll, 45% of Americans say it’s okay for the government to monitor everyone’s e-mail if officials say doing so might avert future terrorist attacks. The poll also found that a 56% majority believes NSA tracking of phone records is “acceptable.”

But even without flashy newspaper ads and sweeping support from the polls, Restore the Fourth isn’t giving up hope. Restore the Fourth’s Reddit subscribers have used their fury over the NSA to fuel much of the work. Users have teamed up to create viewer-friendly pamphlets, flyers and business cards to distribute in their local communities, while others are in the process of creating a promotional video.

Restore the Fourth spokesman Reed believes the movement will make an impact, especially because of its diverse appeal. The surveillance-opposition efforts have so far brought together an eclectic group of supporters, including two unlikely partners — an Ohio Tea Party association and Occupy Wall Street NYC. This bipartisanship is an advantage Reed thinks will make Capitol Hill lawmakers stop and listen.

“The main thing is getting out there and getting our voice heard,” Reed says. “Because the more attention we have, the more awareness America will have about how deep this issue actually goes, and how many people care.”

MORE: Snowden’s Hong Kong Escape: Behind the Role That Beijing Played

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the organization Shahid Buttar is affiliated with. It is the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, not Council.

26 comments
xxjohnnyQ
xxjohnnyQ

TO: CrazyTrent01

So, CrazyTrent01: You cannot express your own thoughts? You need to invoke someone to speak for you? Well, OK.

Let me remind you that there are forces outside this country that would LOVE to bring the USA down. And they are working hard at doing just that.

These forces have stated publicly, as a manifesto, that they intend to kill us all. They feel it is the will of God (Allah) and they will die, deceive, trick, subverse, do suicide, or anything else to accomplish this goal. Their goal is the establishment of a system of Caliphates -- one of which would be what we now call America.

Wake up! You are being used by these forces under the guise alarm about USA government "spying" and Constitutional rights.

It seems Americans don't mind if giant corporations keep track of Americans' activity, as long as it's for making money for those very corporations.

Americans willingly allow their very locations to be tracked by their phones -- what stores they visit, how long they spend there, the path they take to work every day. This is REAL surveillance. The phones we use are basically tracking devices that also happen to be able to make a phone call.

Yet those same people are upset if their government, in trying to prevent another 9/11, just keeps track in a similar way as the big corporations. In fact, they're using the corporations' data -- and in a more limited way than the corporations themselves are allowed.

Google, Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Microsoft, credit card companies, credit-rating companies, etc, etc -- they all keep gobs of info about Americans in order to make a profit. This is real surveillance. Unlike the NSA surveillance, these guys know, and keep track of, each individual -- with name, address, and so on.

I guess we regard data mining and surveillance as A-OK as long as it's done for making money. But to heck with trying to keep our airports safe, or preventing a terrorist from poisoning our water supply (for example). This goes "too far" apparently.

Remember the first WTC bombings in 1993, then the 9/11 WTC disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, capturing of many shoe-bombers (trying to sneak in from Canada), Lokerbie Airport in Scotland, the Madrid railroad explosions several years ago. And many, many ,many other attempts. (Alas! Too many were successful.)

The reason the Boston Marathon bombers were caught was because of SURVEILLANCE. None of those Americans who were killed or injured during that bombing regretted those surveillance cameras that helped to GET those a$$holes -- I mean, terrorists!

These incidents mentioned are only a very few attacks that have/might have affected us (the USA). These terrorists continue -- every day -- to blow up mosques, Muslim worshippers, Islamists on holy pilgrimages, night clubs in Bali and on and on and on.

They DO NEED TO BE TRACKED in any way possible.

Americans are already delivering, voluntarily, with their own clicks, swipes, and keystrokes, all the information that the big American corporations have. I mean Google, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, Twitter, Facebook, yada yada yada.

Wake up!

Why is it terrible for our government (whose PRIMARY job is safety of our citizens) to access (in a limited way) what these large corporations have gotten for their own benefit (profit) at your ( the American citizen) expense? These corporations are allowed by law to do WAY mor than the NSA is allowed to do.

Do not help those who are committed to do you harm! AlQaida, Taliban, and other terrorist groups are not monitored EXCEPT BY THE LIKES OF THE NSA! The NSA, the CIA, etc, while "classified" are at least SOMEWHAT monitored by other branches of our government (congress).

ALQAIDA (etc) is/are not IN ANY WAY MONITORED by our government UNLESS THEY DO SOME SPYING!

Jeeze!  Get a clue!

JoeDetracktor
JoeDetracktor

For a solution to cell phone tracking, spying, eavesdropping, stalking and hacking search youtube for detracktor.

HelmyElsaid
HelmyElsaid

To protect Privacy,Constitutional rights(Legal case at UISA court against Obama,USA government,UN,vodafone company-AS my documents at: www.helmyelsaid.blogspot.com)

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

Liberal freaks!!!! LIBERAL FKTARDS! The NSA is protecting you!!!! If you want privacy you're automatically gay and going to hell!! It's in the bible written by god himself! Go back to Iraq if you want privacy and freedom!! This MURICA

aztecian
aztecian

as long as obama says it's cool...i'm fine with it.  

xxjohnnyQ
xxjohnnyQ

It seems Americans don't mind if giant corporations keep track of Americans' activity, as long as it's for making money for those very corporations.

Americans willingly allow their very locations to be tracked by their phones -- what stores they visit, how long they spend there, the path they take to work every day. This is real surveillance. The phones we use are basically tracking devices that also happen to be able to make a phone call.

Yet those same people are upset if their government, in trying to prevent another 9/11, just keeps track in a similar way as the big corporations. In fact, they're using the corporations' data -- and in a more limited way than the corporations themselves.

Google, Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Microsoft, credit card companies, credit-rating companies, etc, etc -- they all keep gobs of info about Americans in order to make a profit. This is real surveillance.

I guess we regard data mining and surveillance as A-OK as long as it's done for making money. But to heck with trying to keep our airports safe, or preventing a terrorist from poisoning our water supply (for example). This goes "too far" apparently.

PR_uno
PR_uno

I hear Rand Paul defending the 4th. But at the same time he reminds me of unconditional Obama supporters. Who are against a policy when the other guy is in office. I for one voted twice for Obama. But I realized now that candidate Obama can make a great speech. Sadly, president Obama turned out to be more like Bush, than Bush himself.  So if you are one of those that approve of something you were once against, then you should seek help ASAP. 

suspecteffect
suspecteffect

this article is insanely biased. What ever happened to real news?

RobertAlexander
RobertAlexander

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I'd like to see who they polled for this.  The elderly?  People who grew up during the cold war?  


bckids1208
bckids1208

Your headline is wrong, this isn't about being pro-Snowden, it is about protesting the surveillance of all Americans without a warrant. It is called Restore the 4th because we believe the actions of the NSA violate the 4th amendment of the constitution. 

IreneOgrizek
IreneOgrizek

Snowden is looking for and more like the victim and the US government is looking more and more like the bully. The real issue is the NSA's organization, mandate, and cultural life. There are obviously problems with it if a contractors as young as 29 can easily read top-secret material. This is a wake-up call to the government. http://ireneogrizek.ca/2013/07/01/9799/

are122
are122

@xxjohnnyQ With all their sophisticated computers and devices plus a huge budget...they couldn't even catch someone working for them.  Not money well spent.  Instead of spending millions on their equipment why not just send them our old paper phone books.

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

NObama says its cool to be gay. That means its cool to burn in hell!!!!! Don't listen to that gay loving terrorist illegal alien NObama!!!! MURICA. At least we didn't vote for that clown!! I voted for bush!!!!

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

LIBERAL FKTARD FREAK!!! Go back to Talibanland!!!! This is MURICA LOVE IT OF LEAVE

jdp23
jdp23

great point @bckids1208 .  According to Restore the Fourth's press release at http://www.restorethefourth.net/press/,
"The July 4th demonstrations seek to demand an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government and to ensure that all future government surveillance is constitutional, limited, and clearly defined."

jmac
jmac

@IreneOgrizek   Snowden is not a victim; he's a lost-in-space ideologue who opened his mouth once too often.     He lost the title of victim (and, in his mind, hero) when he told China detailed information about our surveillance on cyber wars.  You don't need a nuke to take a nation down anymore, you can do it electronically.   He's a traitor with a big ego.     

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

Or. Also if you want privacy back we need bush back!!!! MURICA!!!

TraeAdams
TraeAdams

@jmac @IreneOgrizek The NSA director himself has lied under oath to Congress's face. The justification? Fighting terrorism. Simply repeating "terrorism" and "9-11", combined with selective reporting from the media, has succeeded in creating a public so afraid of terrorists they'll acquiesce to government intrusions. This campaign against Snowden is ensuring that in the future, everyone will be too afraid to stand up when THE GOVERNMENT HAS DONE SOMETHING WRONG

jmac
jmac

@TraeAdams @jmac @IreneOgrizek When you have evidence our government has done something wrong, then I'll march with you on Patriots Day - July 4th.   The senators who represent us, left and right and who knew about this program (PRISM) don't think we did anything wrong.   ----  Our government did something wrong when our VP outed a CIA agent because her husband wrote in an op=ed that our president was lying.   He was.  I wasn't protesting Bush over his surveillance patterns that have continued with this president and until this president does something wrong, I'm not protesting his policies on July 4th.  I'm an American first, unlike Snowden.