Today, February 11, is The Day We Fight Back, a semi-organized attempt at letting Congress and the public know that we won’t stand for dragnet surveillance by the NSA. Here is the letter I sent to Senator Blumenthal, Senator from my state of Connecticut. I’ve sent similar letters to Senator Chris Murphy and Representative John Larson.
As you know, there have been many revelations in the past several months regarding surveillance activity by the NSA. These revelations, though not entirely unsurprising in light of the ways we already knew the government interpreted the Patriot Act after it was passed in 2001, are nonetheless concerning to me.
While I understand the need to uncover plots by terrorist groups, I do not believe that these activities should be done at the expense of civil liberties. The NSA has routinely claimed to be sensitive to the privacy of Americans, only for a new revelation to expose many of those claims as, at best, partial truths. The revelations that the agency has gathered data from private data lines owned by Google and other companies, as well as its attempts to weaken encryption standards, are particularly concerning.
These actions and others give me the sense that the agency has an attitude that, if it isn’t already, is very susceptible to becoming ambivalent toward civil liberties.
As one of your constituents, I am very pleased to see that you are a co-sponsor for the USA Freedom Act. I am hoping that you will push for the passage of this bill in the Senate, and perhaps even strengthen it, to ensure that it protects civil liberties and does not become watered down in favor of the NSA and other surveillance agencies.
I am also hoping that you will oppose the passage of the FISA Improvements Act of 2013, at least as it currently stands. I do not wish to see the kind of secretive, dragnet surveillance that we’ve learned about in these past months be codified into law.
Finally, I hope you will be a strong advocate against civil liberties violations by not only the NSA, but any federal, state, or local agency that might follow the NSA’s lead in conducting widespread surveillance. Most of the nation’s attention on these matters is currently focused on that agency, but police departments across the nation are currently looking into the use of unmanned drones, and we must ensure that these devices are not used to conduct surveillance on citizens.
I hope that you will strongly advocate for the privacy and civil liberties of your constituents in the coming days and months. I believe the time to do so is now, while surveillance activities are still able to be regulated.
Thank you taking time to read my letter.