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Over 100 Civil Liberties Organizations and Internet Companies Demand Full-Scale Congressional Investigation of NSA Surveillance

phone with sticker on it saying "this phone is tapped"
image © François Proulx

Today, dozens of civil liberties organizations and Internet companies—including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, ThoughtWorks, and Americans for Limited Government—have joined the coalition demanding that Congress initiate a full-scale investigation into the National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance programs. The coalition includes ARL, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many other organizations and companies concerned with privacy and civil liberties. 

This morning, the coalition sent an updated letter to Congress with 115 organizations and companies demanding public transparency and an end to dragnet surveillance.

The letter comes even as dozens of groups are organizing a nationwide call-in campaign to demand transparency and an end to the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance program via https://call.stopwatching.us.

It has been less than two weeks since the first NSA revelations were published in the Guardian, and it is clear the American people want Congress to act. The first step is organizing an independent investigation, similar to the Church Committee from the 1970s, into all of the NSA’s surveillance capabilities. The coalition’s letter tells Congress:

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution…

In addition, the StopWatching.us global petition has gathered more than 215,000 signatures since it was launched one week ago. The petition calls on Congress and the President to provide a public accounting of the United States’ domestic spying capabilities and to bring an end to illegal surveillance.

Research libraries have a deep and longstanding commitment to privacy and freedom of inquiry, and we were among the first to raise the alarm about Section 215. Indeed, shortly after passage of the PATRIOT Act, Section 215 became known as the “library records provision” because it so clearly permitted violation of the expectation of privacy that Americans have when it comes to things like what books they read.

You can read the full coalition letter, with an up-to-date list of the signees, at StopWatching.us.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.