Opponents of the National Security Agency’s broad surveillance apparatus are organizing a rally to remind elected officials the violation of Americans’ civil liberties through the collection of their phone records and Internet metadata.
StopWatching.Us — a coalition of more 100 groups, including the ACLU, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Digital Fourth, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Mozilla, and reddit — plans to stage the rally on October 26th in Washington, DC, where organizers will present Congress with petitions containing the signatures of more than 569,000 people who are opposed to NSA spying.
“On Saturday, October 26 — the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act — thousands of people from across the political spectrum will unite in Washington, D.C. to proclaim: Enough is enough. Stop watching us,” StopWatching.Us said in the announcement of the rally.
“We are demanding a full Congressional investigation of America’s surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from public officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public,” the organizers added. “And we will personally deliver the half million petition signatures to Congress.”
StopWatching.Us is billing the event as the “single largest rally yet in opposition to surveillance.” The event will include live music and a number of speakers, such as actors John Cusack, Mark Ruffalo, and Wil Wheaton. Daniel Ellsberg, a whistleblower who exposed the Pentagon Papers, and Alexis Ohanian, founder of reddit, are also slated to speak.
The Associated Press released a poll earlier this month finding that nearly 60% of Americans oppose the NSA’s collection of their phone and Internet metadata. The poll also found that a majority believes that the federal government is doing a poor job of protecting their privacy.
In July, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) sponsored an amendment that would have limited the extent to which the NSA could spy on American citizens. Though it received strong bipartisan support, the measure was was defeated. But Amash’s effort has led to a serious debate in Congress on the merits of the surveillance against the infringement upon basic constitutional liberties.
The location of the event has yet to be announced as organizers are still finalizing their plans, though they tell United Liberty that it will be held close to the United States Capitol building. For those who cannot attend, the StopWatching.Us coalition is encouraging supporters to host viewing parties or to watch the rally online.