Major websites to protest NSA surveillance on Independence Day

Several large websites and online groups including Reddit, Mozilla, Wordpress, Public Knowledge and others will stage online demonstrations on Thursday, July 4, to protest NSA surveillance programs, such as collecting phone call data from Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T), that they say violate citizens' constitutional rights.

The sites will display the text of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, along with text protesting NSA surveillance, according to a Network World article.

Live rallies are also planned in several U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston and Atlanta. Groups in Canada and the U.K. may also rally, according to a Reddit post.

While the NSA and other agencies have had active surveillance programs since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, public opinion about the extent and impact of such programs was mixed. The June leak of an NSA order to Verizon asking it to turn over the records of its business customers in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings set off a wave of public condemnation. Edward Snowden, a former CIA analyst, claims to have leaked the information and is now seeking asylum from a number of countries.

Besides Verizon, several major telcos such as AT&T and Sprint (NYSE: S) admitted they routinely comply with government requests for records.

Members of the Internet Defense League, a coalition of several websites originally formed to protest SOPA (the Act), along with other groups like Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and recently formed sites StopWatching.us and Restore the Fourth are promoting and participating in the protest event.

"…no matter how we feel about Edward Snowden, all of us have to face the fact that our government has been actively spying on us without probable cause," said Robert Heldreth in a Restore the Fourth blog post .

The NSA leak and subsequent revelations about its PRISM program and international surveillance activities have had a ripple effect beyond U.S. borders, threatening trade talks between the European Union and the United States, the EFF reports.

For more:
- Network World has this article
- RestoretheFourth.net has this post
- see Reddit's forum thread
- and this EFF article

Related articles:
Verizon Business forced to give call records to the NSA
ACLU sues NSA, says phone data collection violates constitutional rights
Political issues, spying concerns could drag at Google's Project Loon

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