Today Is The Day We Fight Back

Fellow Americans denizens of the world, it’s time we take a collective stand. It’s time we say enough is enough. Today is the day we fight back against mass surveillance.

 
A year ago, the people of the United States as well as some tech giants collectively helped defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Had this bill passed, the internet as we know it would be radically different. It would have undermined the freedom of speech we take for granted on a day-to-day basis and allowed the United States government to essentially blacklist any website they saw as “unfit”.
The collective might of the people and websites such as Wikipedia and Google quickly helped supporters of the bill see the error of their ways and the bill soon lost support and died. 
But now, our freedoms and privacies are facing a bigger threat; the National Security Agency

 

The NSA has been collecting personal data both domestically and abroad, in turn making the world and America a safer place by foiling potential terrorist attacks. Or at least they claim to, despite the fact that they have only stopped one such incident. The only success credited to the program has been convicting a San Diego cab driver of sending $8,500 to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab

The NSA uses a program called PRISM to obtain all the data and metadata (or data about data) that they have gathered. With PRISM, the NSA has been able to collect data from social media, emails, even your search engine and cellphone company.

 

 

The NSA has collected close to 3 billion pieces of intelligence in a single month in 2013. Despite the fact that the director of National Intelligence himself stated that “[PRISM] cannot be used to intentionally target any US citizen,” they have collected nearly 200 million text messages from phones abroad and domestically. They have used these messages to gather data on the users location, credit card information, as well as who is in their network. Even Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has had her phone tapped and emails read. The NSA has even located targets for drone strikes, using metadata and tracking their location via SIM cards. This information is not nearly as accurate or reliable as other forms of intelligence and can easily lead to civilian deaths, such as the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki’s (an Islamist militant with ties to al-Qaeda) son, who was an American citizen. This was the first time a U.S. drone targeted and killed an American citizen.

 

Defenders of the NSA and it’s collection programs argue that it is for the good of the country and the world. But do the ends truly justify the means? As stated previously, not a single terror plot has been foiled thanks to the NSA. Not a single one. Zero. Despite the massive volume of data they collect, they have nothing to show for it. While the right to privacy is not explicitly stated in the United State’s Constitution, it can easily be seen that it was implied by the founding fathers, especially in the fourth amendment, which states

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

A warrant on the American public has yet to be issued.

There are many proponents of the NSA use the slogan “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”. With that logic, why is it not okay to have people peep through your windows while you watch television– or worse yet, undress yourself. Would you mind if policemen kick your door down and raid your house? If you have nothing to hide, why should you mind, right? 

 

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”- Benjamin Franklin.

We are slowly becoming an Orwellian society, where Big Brother (the government) knows your every move and thought. There will be no place to hide in this bleak future in which speech that is seen as unfit can easily be suppressed. Many may call this a slippery slope fallacy, but if the mass-collection of EVERYTHING we do on- (and slowly, also off-) line is perfectly OK, what’s next? Where do we draw the line?

 

This is where we take a stand., where we say enough is enough. Join the 6,000 plus websites (including Mozilla, Reddit, DuckDuckGo, and Tumblr) as well as the 169,295 (as of this writing) people who have emailed their legislator to support the USA Freedom Act, which curtails the NSA’s power, and to oppose the FISA Improvement Act, which would legalize bulk collection of phone data.

 

I am writing this directly to you, Senator Fienstein and Senator Boxer. Please help curtail the ever-growing reach of the NSA and help provide your constituents with the privacy and freedom that they are entitled to.

 

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