Despite the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have made a habit of spying on the citizenry. But in the 21st century, the internet and the ability of computers to store and process vast amounts of data has allowed the government to collect vast amounts of data about each of us.
Government surveillance goes well beyond the NSA/FBI mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s automatic license plate readers have been recording our travel for decades; the FBI’s domain awareness program records where we travel, record has been recording license plates for decades, Fusion Centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces (run by DHS and the FBI respectively) gather information.
We have an opportunity to stop intelligence agencies from collecting our phone, email and other records in bulk when Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act sunsets at the end of 2019.
Remember the good ol’ days when just Big Brother kept tabs on what you did and where you went?
More than five years have passed since the public became aware of the damning extent of mass surveillance that is conducted against innocent people in the United States pursuant to Section 215. Despite broad public outrage and several Congressional attempts to meaningfully reform Section 215, mass surveillance of innocent people continues.
Breaking: The NSA is no longer using the phone metadata program. It’s time for Congress to end it once and for all.
For years we’ve said that the NSA’s mass surveillance program that collects our phone metadata under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is unconstitutional, unnecessary, and should be ended. Now it seems that the NSA agrees with us (at least on those last two points).
Defending Rights & Dissent and the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights are civil liberties groups with a long history of standing up for the right to engage in political expression.