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It’s the authority that the National Security Agency (NSA), with the FBI’s help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people.
Spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a coalition of 34 organizations from across the political spectrum recently launched Fight215.org to help concerned individuals contact lawmakers and demand an end to NSA’s unconstitutional mass surveillance under the Patriot Act.
After Snowden first disclosed documents concerning the government’s use of 215, US President Barack Obama said in March 2014 that “the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk.” In the year since, however, Congress has failed to come up with a legislative fix.
Fight215 also features a video from intrepid filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, reminding us that the nearly 300-page Patriot Act was passed in the horrible aftermath of 9/11, with little time spent thinking about how it might violate the Constitution. Nearly fourteen years later, we know that one result has been the unconstitutional bulk collection of Americans’ private calling records.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes government agencies to collect “tangible things” in order to investigate potential terrorism or foreign spying plots.
It violates the privacy of millions of innocent people. The NSA and FBI use Section 215 to collect the phone records of millions of people who have never even been suspected or accused of a crime.
It’s unconstitutional and illegal. Section 215 of the Patriot Act was re-interpreted in complete secrecy to allow the surveillance of everyone without suspicion. One federal judge who ruled on the program’s legality after it was revealed to the public called it “beyond Orwellian” and “likely unconstitutional.”
It doesn’t make us any safer. The NSA has defended the phone metadata program by saying it has stopped terrorist attacks, but that claim has been repeatedly proven false. Even the White House’s own Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has said, “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which [bulk collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act] made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
Section 215 of the Patriot Act is set to expire on June 1, 2015. A frequently misused section of the Patriot Act is coming up for Congressional renewal, and we have a chance to stop it. We can stop Congress from simply rubber-stamping Patriot Act Section 215 — and stop this mass suspicionless surveillance program once and for all.
Use Fight215’s phone tool to call Congress today.
Tell Congress: Your time is up. Vote to end NSA mass surveillance. Then ask your friends to do the same.