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Grassroots protests planned nationwide in response to PRISM and government surveillance
by Evan Koser Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 at 2:48 AM
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Disgruntled citizens have begun collaborating their efforts online in an attempt to redress their grievances over the United States government's surveillance policies.
Activists who frequent Internet pages like Reddit, 4chan, and other various social media are planning a number of protests nationwide which call upon the government to uphold the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment in response to the National Security Agency's recently revealed surveillance programs.
Restore the Fourth and Stop PRISM are grassroots movements comprised of angry netizens who have grown tired of bureaucratic unaccountability and secret court rulings; they call upon everyday citizens to join them in protest.
The groups quickly formed over the weekend; the Restore the Fourth subReddit acquired over 5,000 subscribers in its first day. Reddit is a popular San Francisco-based website often branded as the "front page of the Internet."
Among other issues, the group is calling for an end to the PATRIOT Act and the removal of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper. The PATRIOT Act was a 363-page law which passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support. Opponents of the massive legislation assert that Section 215 makes it significantly easier for law enforcement agencies to gather intelligence inside the U.S.
"The right to be secure in our persons from unlawful search and seizure is our right as human beings and we refuse to consent to be governed by a government which fails to respect that," wrote one of Restore the Fourth’s organizers. The group has compiled a list of protests being planned nationwide.
Likewise, Stop PRISM is a similar body of individuals whose grievances relate primarily to the NSA's PRISM program. Their website claims that they will call upon those in positions of authority, such as James Clapper, to "resign from their posts" as well as demanding an end to the secret court processes under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Controversy surrounding secret FISA decisions have centered around the supposedly-broad interpretations of what constitutes a "foreign power" under Title 50 U.S.C, section 1801(a). A "foreign government" need not even be recognized as such by the U.S. in order for it to fall under the general definition. Additionally, organizations "not substantially composed" of American citizens fall under scrutiny.
Unlike the Restore the Fourth movement which intends to focus its efforts through patriotic and American-centric appeal, Stop PRISM intends to take its message to the international stage. Their days-old forums indicate that several attempts are being made to establish demonstrations in London, Canada, and even Australia.
"I chose to get involved with this group because I believe the government's hypocrisy, through PRISM, requires citizens to take action," said one user in Stop PRISM's Internet Relay Chat channel. "The fact that I have nothing to hide does not give the government the authority to forgo my Fourth Amendment rights. Our freedoms cannot be protected in the act of taking them away."
Concerns regarding the NSA's PRISM program have swept over other nations, such as the United Kingdom, whose citizens also access American-based websites such as Facebook and Google. As part of PRISM's all-encompassing dragnet, even foreign users information is stored and collected.
"Scott Ludlam is the [only] one asking these questions of the major parties," said another user from Australia who believes the Australian Security Intel Organisation has similar programs to those of the NSA.
The Restore the Fourth subReddit has over 12,000 subscribers and have established a White House petition, "Pardon Edward Snowden," which has more than 50,000 signatures as of Tuesday evening. Although these two organizations differ in character and short-term objectives, it would appear that many citizens both domestic and abroad are angry with their governments about perceived injustices.