A group of high-profile advocacy organizations, businesses, and important figures in the technology world have started a petition aimed at pressuring U.S. lawmakers into action over controversial digital surveillance activity undertaken by the government.
Secret documents passed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper – made public last week – detailed the massive amounts of data apparently collected by American intelligence organizations. Verizon has been providing records of every phone call made over its network to the NSA since April 25, while the PRISM program reportedly collects data directly from the servers of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Apple and other major U.S. firms.
[MORE ON THIS STORY: Debate rages over revelation of NSA spying secrets]
The petition, hosted here, says that the government has violated both the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution, and gravely undermined the basic rights to privacy enjoyed by American citizens.
“As a result [of these programs], the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization,” the petition said in part.
The Mozilla Foundation, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Reddit, and a host of other organizations are the main signatories to the petition, though several public figures in the technology sector like Cory Doctorow and Rebecca MacKinnon have also signed. Mozilla has also added a link to the petition to its default Firefox start page, in hopes of raising public awareness.
The Stopwatching.us group has been far from alone in condemning the U.S. intelligence community’s alleged excesses, however. Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the World Wide Web – told the Financial Times in a statement that “unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society.”
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