In the weeks since the leak of classified programs revealing government surveillance of citizen’s communications data, Nathan White said he’s seen people express first a sense of shock that then turns to anger and a “what are we going to do about it”-attitude.
This is where White says the social news site Reddit is filling a role that wasn’t possible in recent years. As it did with the controversial SOPA and PIPA legislation (Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act) last year, Reddit has been a rallying point of information regarding the leaks of the NSA’s phone metadata program and its PRISM program, which collects information from cloud service providers.
It is on Reddit where people are learning how to send in letters to legislators about the program and are organizing around an upcoming, nationwide protest to take place on July 4 to “Restore the Fourth” — the Fourth Amendment, that is.
White, the public relations representative for Restore the Fourth in Washington, D.C., told TheBlaze that on Reddit people find they “really do have a voice.”
Though a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found around 56 percent of Americans think domestic surveillance programs, like those leaked by former government contractor Edward Snowden a couple weeks ago, are “acceptable,” there is a community that crosses party lines believing such surveillance is an overstep of power that breaches the Fourth Amendment. A poll posed by TheBlaze found most surveyed believe Snowden is a hero for revealing the programs.
“It’s your job as a citizen to let Congress know how you feel,” White said. And that’s what the Restore the Fourth protest is trying to do.
Restore the Fourth, a “coalition of citizens from across the political spectrum,” hopes to in a peaceful way voice support for the “right we’re all protected under,” Micheal Reed, national Restore the Fourth director of public and media relations told TheBlaze.
“It comes from the roots of America and that root protection is being infringed upon,” he said, noting the appropriate timing of the event being placed on the day the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776.
So far, Reed said more than 75 cities have signed up to host grassroots events.
It’s up to local initiatives, he said, to decide how they plan to organize, but in D.C., for example White said they are going to have speakers in the city’s McPherson Square — they’re even trying to get Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
On an overarching level, Restore the Fourth “demands” the government:
- Reform the USA PATRIOT Act, specifically Section 215 but generally with respect to the rights of American citizens, and impose clear constraints on the powers granted by FISA.
- Take a federal stance against law-enforcement practices across the nation which also violate our physical security and privacy, such as “stop-and-frisk” and internal security check-points.
- Hold those involved in government surveillance programs accountable to stringent and transparent judicial oversight.
- Remove James Clapper from his position as Director of National Intelligence.
In addition to this physical protest, other virtual initiatives that have cropped up in response to government surveillance programs, like a petition to the White House to pardon Snowden (it has more than 91,000 signatures, needing only about 9,000 more to merit an official response). Many are also signing online letters to lawmakers. Stop Watching Us, for example, has more than 391,000 signatures as of Friday morning on its letter demanding the NSA reveal the full extent of its programs.