on July 6, 2013 in World News

Privacy group demands Supreme Court halts NSA surveillance programs

A privacy watchdog group on Thursday announced that it will file a petition asking the Supreme Court to vacate the ruling that allows the National Security Agency to gather domestic surveillance data.

At a Restore the Fourth rally in Washington, D.C. on Thursday,  the Domestic Surveillance Project division of the Electronic  Privacy Information Center (EPIC) announced plans to once again  urge the high court to revoke authorization of the NSA spy  programs.  The rally was one of many public events held in  the US to protest the NSA surveillance programs first leaked by  whistleblower Edward Snowden last month.

We believe that the NSA’s collection of domestic  communications contravenes the First and Fourth Amendments to the  United States Constitution, and violates several federal privacy  laws, including the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Foreign  Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 as amended,” the  petition reads.

We ask the NSA to immediately suspend collection of solely  domestic communications pending the competition of a public  rulemaking as required by law. We intend to renew our request  each week until we receive your response,” the petition  continues.

Nearly 2,000 US residents have signed the EPIC petition, which is  addressed to NSA Director General Keith B. Alexander and Defense  Secretary Chuck Hagel. A previous petition filed on June 17  received no response from the government.

As the privacy group announced its plans, crowds across the US  gathered on the July 4 holiday to protest the NSA surveillance  programs. More than 400 people gathered at Restore the Fourth  events in New York and Washington, and about 300 gathered in San  Francisco. Americans gathered in about 100 other cities, holding  signs and chanting in opposition of domestic spying. Organizers  of the rallies told Reuters that about 10,000 people were  expected to rally for their cause on Thursday.

Happy Fourth of July! Immediately stop your unconstitutional  spying on the world’s Internet users – The People,” read a  statement on the Restore the Fourth website.

The NSA’s programs have also sparked outrage and generated  lawsuits and petitions from a number of other Americans and  privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. The  ACLU’s lawsuit differs from EPIC’s petition by claiming that the  agency’s programs violate the First Amendment, with no mention of  the Fourth Amendment.

But with multiple documents filed against the agency and EPIC  pledging to file new documents every week, it may become more  difficult for the NSA to ignore the complaints.

EPIC truly believes that this Foreign Intelligence  Surveillance Court exceeded its authority, is not acting in  accordance with the law and needs to be overturned — and cannot  be allowed to continue conducting this surveillance,” Amie  Stepanovich, director of EPIC’s Domestic Surveillance Project,  told ThinkProgress.

The privacy group plans to file its petition on Monday.



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