Tech organizations are speaking out against the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) recently exposed surveillance program PRISM, by forming a bipartisan coalition to call upon lawmakers. The surveillance program has been publicly condemned by an array of 86 different civil liberties and privacy organizations, even those who were allegedly linked to the scandal. Firms such as Mozilla, Reddit, DuckDuckGo, American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are all involved in the movement to halt PRISM and other systems of internet spying.
In response, the coalition is sending a letter to lawmakers demanding the immediate halt of PRISM. They have also launched an online campaign called “StopWatching.us,” to invite Internet users to add signatures to their petition.
The strongly worded letter accuses lawmakers of violating American citizen’s First and Fourth Amendment and calls on Congress to “take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s and the FBI’s data collection programs,” as well as “Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.”
The movement is being modeled after the online SOPA protests of early 2012, when many of the same organizations protested the government’s bill designed to eliminate foreign sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement.
Mozilla, an internet search browser that houses Firefox, is at the forefront of the campaign against the government’s surveillance program, asserting that they will use Firefox to recruit supporters, by pushing out messages on the default homepage to its 500 million users.
“Privacy and security on the Internet is not an option,” said Alex Fowler, chief privacy officer for Mozilla. “The revelations, which confirm many of our worst fears, raise serious questions about individual privacy protections, checks on government power and court orders impacting some of the most popular Web services.”
The coalition’s plans have just begun. If the group does not influence Congress directly through their letter, the group plans to organize a phone campaign to call lawmakers. They also voiced hope, in a press conference organized by Free Press, that other large Internet companies, like Google or Facebook, would join their campaign.
The coalition has begun a forceful campaign against congress that urges lawmakers to acknowledge the secret agenda of the NSA and their spying programs. The group hopes to be the voice of global Internet users, vowing to protect the right to privacy.
Sara Papantonio is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.