New Coalition Site Fight215.org Launches to Amplify Opposition to the NSA’s Mass Surveillance

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EFF.orgA coali­tion of 34 orga­ni­za­tions from across the polit­i­cal spec­trum is launch­ing Fight215.orgtoday to help con­cerned indi­vid­u­als con­tact law­mak­ers and demand an end to NSA’s uncon­sti­tu­tion­al mass sur­veil­lance under the Patri­ot Act.

The launch coin­cides with the count­down to the expi­ra­tion of Sec­tion 215 of the Patri­ot Act, which the NSA claims jus­ti­fies bulk col­lec­tion of the phone records of mil­lions of inno­cent peo­ple. Whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den shared these thoughts with the coali­tion:

Sus­pi­cion­less sur­veil­lance has no place in a democ­ra­cy. The next 60 days are a his­toric oppor­tu­ni­ty to rein in the NSA, but the only one who can end the worst of its abus­es is you. Call your rep­re­sen­ta­tives and tell them that the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ‘bulk col­lec­tion’ of Amer­i­cans’ pri­vate records under Sec­tion 215 of the Patri­ot Act must end.

The 34 groups and com­pa­nies join­ing Fight215 (see a full list at the bot­tom of this post) have come togeth­er to send a clear mes­sage: the pol­i­tics of fear doesn’t trump the Con­sti­tu­tion. The uncon­sti­tu­tion­al bulk col­lec­tion of phone records must end now. In addi­tion to orga­ni­za­tions like EFF and Fight for the Future, the coali­tion rep­re­sents the whole polit­i­cal spec­trum, from R Street to Demand Progress. It also includes press free­dom orga­ni­za­tions like Free Press and Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tions like ACLU and Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions, stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions like Stu­dent Net Alliance, and grass­roots groups like Restore the Fourth. The coali­tion also includes com­pa­nies like Sonic.net

Fight215 also fea­tures a video from intre­pid film­mak­er Kir­by Fer­gu­son, remind­ing us that the near­ly 300-page Patri­ot Act was passed in the hor­ri­ble after­math of 9/11, with lit­tle time spent think­ing about how it might vio­late the Con­sti­tu­tion. Near­ly four­teen years lat­er, we know that one result has been the uncon­sti­tu­tion­al bulk col­lec­tion of Amer­i­cans’ pri­vate call­ing records.

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It’s exact­ly that fear of ter­ror­ism that the NSA’s defend­ers have con­tin­ued to use to defend bulk col­lec­tion. And though they con­tin­ue to throw around false claims that the pro­gram has stopped 54 attacks, those claims have been solid­ly debunked. In fact, as Sen­a­tor Ron Wyden points out, “We have not yet seen any evi­dence show­ing that the NSA’s drag­net col­lec­tion of Amer­i­cans’ phone records has pro­duced any unique­ly valu­able intel­li­gence.”

In fact, the Pres­i­dent, the Pri­va­cy and Civ­il Lib­er­ties Over­sight Board (PCLOB), and the President’s Review Group have all admit­ted that col­lec­tion of call detail records is not nec­es­sary.

That’s why Fight215 is launch­ing now. While end­ing phone record sur­veil­lance is just the first step to rein­ing in sur­veil­lance abus­es by the NSA, the expi­ra­tion of Sec­tion 215 in just a few weeks pro­vides a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty. The last time Patri­ot was reau­tho­rized, we hadn’t seen the FISA court order autho­riz­ing the NSA to col­lect phone records in bulk. We didn’t yet know just how bad­ly the Patri­ot Act’s pro­vi­sions had been twist­ed by the NSA. But giv­en what we know now, it’s impor­tant to send the mes­sage that a vote to reau­tho­rize bulk phone records col­lec­tion is a vote against the Con­sti­tu­tion.

This is our chance to end mass sur­veil­lance under the Patri­ot Act. Join us.

The full list of orga­ni­za­tions signed on to Fight215.org rep­re­sents a sam­pling of some of the strongest voic­es for free­dom today: ACLU, Access, Advo­ca­cy for Prin­ci­pled Action in Gov­ern­ment, Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee, Amer­i­can Book­sellers for Free Expres­sion, Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion, Bill of Rights Defense Com­mit­tee, Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice, Calyx, Cen­ter for Democ­ra­cy and Tech­nol­o­gy, Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions, Defend­ing Dis­sent, Demand Progress, Down­size DC, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, Human Rights Watch, the Inter­net Archive, Lib­er­ty Coali­tion, Media Alliance, Openmedia.org, Open Tech­nol­o­gy Insti­tute, Par­tic­i­pa­to­ry Pol­i­tics Foun­da­tion, R Street, Restore the Fourth, Roots Action, Silent Cir­cle, Sonic.net, Stu­dent Net Alliance, Sun­light Foun­da­tion, Ven­ture Pol­i­tics, and X-Lab.