In a nationwide show that they care about their constitutional rights and are willing to take a stand for them, hundreds of Americans gathered in over a dozen US cities on Sunday, to protest against US government surveillance programs.
Staged by grassroots movement, Restore the Fourth, and dubbed ‘1984 Day’ after George Orwell’s idea of all-powerful government surveillance, Sunday’s rallies aimed at drawing attention to domestic spying – which many believe to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.
Restore the Fourth was conceived after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden(now fugitive) blew the whistle on the agency’s clandestineprograms collecting Americans’ phone call and internet activity, such as PRISM. The organization has gained momentum since its first wave of protests held last month.
Chanting slogans and carrying signs such as “They say wiretap, we say fight back,” “NSA has TMI,” “Read the constitution, not my e-mails,” the message was clear.
These Americans were fighting back - against what they believe to be a major breach of their constitutional right to privacy.
Local protests carried their own color and flavor.
In New York City protestersmarched onto an AT&T building, claiming that it wasbeing used to facilitate NSA spying. There was also a theatrical performance staged in Bryant Park where the rally began. Many participants wore masks
San Francisco’s event targeted House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who has been facing public heat for her role in the failure to pass the ‘Amash’amendment’ in recent weeks. Amash was aimed at ending the collection of phone metadata the NSA claims is allowed under the PATRIOT Act. The event featured noteworthy speakers such as Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971.
Despite the fact that local protests didn’t draw more than a few hundred people at each event, privacy campaigners are not alone in their dissatisfaction with the government’s actions on privacy.
A new Pew Research poll found that majority of Americans (56%) say that “federal courts fail to provide adequate limits on the telephone and internet data the government is collecting as part of its anti-terrorism efforts." And "an even larger percentage (70%) believes that the government uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism."
Showing an even bigger shift in public opinion was that this was the first time in Pew Research polling that Americans expressed concern over civil liberties than protection from terrorism since the question was first asked in 2004, according to the organization.
Amongst the hundreds of privacy campaigners in New York was a 10-year-old girl who publicly spoke her mind regarding her right to privacy. “I don't believe I should worry about every word that I write in my emails to my friends.”