The NSA Washington March brought thousands of protestors to Capitol Hill on Saturday, arms raised with signage bearing their intense distaste with the government’s furtive surveillance programs. The anti-NSA rally was to serve as a clarion call for the government to halt their intrusive spying programs, reports the USA Today on Saturday.
The peaceful protestors called on Congress to reign in the National Security Agency, whose most recent controversial move was an allegation that the U.S. has been monitoring the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2002.
Grievances made against the NSA are on the increase; additional details regarding invasive techniques performed by the government’s spying eye have U.S. citizens in an outcry. Metadata and “dragnet” data mining collected by the NSA includes a record of phone calls and their length, raw Internet and search engine traffic, audio content of some phone messages and written content of text and MMS messaging, even private email and social media posts, reports propublica.org.
Protestors demanding a limit to government surveillance held banners reading “Thank you, Edward Snowden,” hailing the former government contractor-turned-whistleblower. Snowden’s startling revelations on the National Security Agency’s spying activities pulled the curtain back on what many say are unconstitutional practices.
Other carried signs and banners that read “Stop mass surveillance,” “Repeal the Patriot Act,” “No NSA mass spying,” “Stop watching my porn searches,” and the like. Chants of “No secret courts” could be heard as speakers discussed their first-person accounts of how their privacy was pirated away by the NSA.
Saturday’s demonstration was organized by a coalition called Stop Watching Us, and is backed by over 100 public advocacy groups.
“I consider myself a conservative and no conservative wants their government collecting information on them and storing it and using it,” said protestor Michael Greene.
Another protestor, Jennifer Wynne, agreed, saying her privacy was abused.
“Over the past several months, we have learned so much about the abuses that are going on and the complete lack of oversight and the mass surveillance into every detail of our lives. And we need to tell Congress that they have to act,” Wynne said.
A letter drafted by Stop Watching Us and sent to Congress says that “blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy” 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.”
Despite the steady outrage against government spying, the Obama administration and lawmakers continue to defend gathering online data as crucial to protecting the U.S. and thwarting militant plots. President Obama has said in the past that the U.S. gathers foreign intelligence just like any other government.