NSA Update: Groups Speak Out Against Surveillance

As details surface regarding an unprecedented leak of classified information about National Security Agency surveillance efforts, a number of advocacy groups and associations have formed a coalition demanding an  investigation into those programs.

It’s too soon to tell how far any official investigations might go, but the attention to the National Security Agency’s multiple surveillance programs won’t be dying down anytime soon.

More details on a new coalition’s effort to keep public scrutiny focused on the issue:

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy.

The latest: Several developments have followed last week’s dual revelations of wide-scale operations by the National Security Agency (NSA) involving collection of cellphone metadata and internet information from companies in those industries. An investigation into the leak itself is currently underway, but nonprofit groups appear to be focused on the civil liberties questions that the NSA programs raise. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Obama administration, saying the NSA’s phone metadata collection “gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.” Meanwhile, Edward Snowden, the former employee of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton who admitted providing the information to the London-based Guardian and The Washington Post, has given an interview to the South China Morning Post in which he says he is “neither a traitor nor hero. I’m an American.”

A unified response: On Tuesday, a number of advocacy groups, companies, and associations launched a new coalition called Stop Watching Us, demanding that “the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA’s spying programs.” The effort, led by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation, is encouraging citizens to write letters to members of Congress asking for investigations into the program. “This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy,” the letter states. Among the associations involved in the effort are the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Entertainment Consumers Association.

Meanwhile, many industry groups whose members are directly affected have not commented publicly on the disclosures, though the tech giants involved have spoken up in the media.

The Internet Association declined to comment for this story, and messages left for two leading mobile-industry groups, CTIA-The Wireless Association and the Telecommunications Industry Association, did not receive a response before press time.

Last week, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the American Library Association responded publicly to the revelations.

(StopWatching.us screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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