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Anti-Surveillance Coalition Plans D.C. Rally

StopWatching.Us, a coalition asking Congress to investigate NSA surveillance programs, is planning a Washington rally against mass internet and phone surveillance Oct. 25 and 26.

According to the group, it will spend the 25th lobbying for their cause on Capitol Hill and on Oct. 26, the anniversary of the signing of the PATRIOT Act, deliver a petition opposing mass surveillance that boasts more than half a million signatures.

"Since the revelations in June about the NSA's spying programs, more than 550,000 people have spoken out against mass government surveillance," said Josh Levy, Internet campaign director for Free Press, one of the groups in the coalition. "But we cannot stop there. It's going to take millions of people – including Congress – to hold the NSA accountable and to change the laws that have enabled these spying programs in the first place."

Coalition members include the ACLU, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Code Pink, Demand Progress, EFF, Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, the Libertarian Party, Mozilla, Public Knowledge, and Reddit.

The Obama administration has taken steps to address concerns about data collection, including promising more transparency and pledging to work with Congress on reforms of the portions of the PATRIOT Act that have to do with collection of phone records, and will get outside experts to review the government's intelligence-gathering technology.

The Department of Justice has also issued new guidelines for seeking records related to newsgathering and those revisions include requiring notice of that collection, and negotiations with news media over that collection, unless that "would pose a clear and substantial threat" to the investigation.

All this comes in the wake of revelations about massive government collection of phone and Internet data, much tied to information leaked to WikiLeaks by Eric Snowden.

Earlier this week, a group of Senators asked the Inspector General for the surveillance community to investigate how data collected under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surviellance Act is used, or misused.

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.