Civil Liberty Groups Team Up Against PRISM

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), reddit, Mozilla, FreedomWorks, and the American Civil Liberties Union have joined an 86-strong coalition of civil liberties organizations and Internet companies that oppose the NSA’s recently exposed data gathering operation.

SiliconAngle’s Mike Wheatley called PRISM a “massive, warrantless government surveillance program.” The coalition went a step further and denounced PRISM as illegal in an open letter sent to Congress. Here’s the relevant snippet:

“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, which protect citizens’ right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy.”

The letter was accompanied by the launch of a petition that asks Internet users to “demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA’s spying programs.” You can find it on the appropriately named website

Besides increased transparency, the group is pushing for changes to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendment Act, which the letter deems “unconstitutional.” The coalition also calls on Congress to assemble a special committee to investigate the extent of PRISM, make recommendations for legal and regulatory reforms, and persecute the officials who are responsible for the program. This initiative doesn’t come as a surprise. Last week’s revelation that the U.S. government is collecting data from service providers and major tech firms caused an uproar in the media and beyond. The story took another turn earlier this week, when the anonymous source behind the leak revealed his identity.

Ed Snowden is a former defense contractor who worked at the NSA for the past four years. SiliconAngle Contributing Editor John Casaretto discussed Snowden’s decision to expose himself in a recent Newsdesk segment: “He basically chose to reveal himself because he had no intention of hiding because he says that he has done nothing wrong. So he really wanted to be public about it, and I think he feels that he’s insulated from some of the things he felt could happen to be him by just coming out and saying hey, it was me.”

For the full analysis on Snowden, check out the video below.