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Anti-mass surveillance rally gains support across factions

November 4, 2013

The 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act on 26th October, saw nearly 2,000 people march to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to protest the mass surveillance programs that Edward Snowden revealed this year.

A protestor at the NSA anti-mass surveillance rally

A protester in a papier-mâché costume at the “Stop Watching Us” demonstration against NSA mass surveillance. From Elvert Barnes.

Left and rightwingers come together

Stop Watching Us, the group behind the rally, is comprised of 100 public advocacy organizations and companies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. With a mix of both left and right wing groups, the coalition is a distinctively broad one.

These groups have been pressuring Congress to reform laws “to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the US is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court.”

Notable rally attendees included Thomas Drake, the ex-NSA employee who disclosed the government surveillance post-9/11. “The last thing a free and open society needs is a digital fence around us,” he said.

Another speaker at the rally who resonated with the crowd, Gary Johnson, ex-governor of New Mexico said, “The government has granted itself power that it does not have.”

Snowden dominates rally, despite his absence

The most significant influence on the rally was Edward Snowden, despite him not being physically present for the event. In a statement Snowden sent in for the rally, he said, “This isn’t about red or blue party lines, and it definitely isn’t about terrorism. It’s about being able to live in a free and open society.”

Nodding to the future, Snowden also said, “elections are coming up, and we are watching you.” Government officials and politicians are meant to be “public servants, not private investigators,” he continued.

The organizers showed the crowd at the rally twelve boxes of 575,000 petition signatures that they were delivering to politicians that day. Snowden in his statement called for “ordinary people from high schools to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government,” and that is what seems to be happening.

Snowden’s statement also said, “We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled.” Like Abraham Lincoln said, “You can’t fool all the people all the time.”

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Category: Surveillance

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