Today is the two year anniversary of the first of Edward Snowden's revelations about the NSA's mass surveillance programs. And on Tuesday, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the USA Freedom Act – a bill that limited mass surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and other authorities.
While USA Freedom Act is a start, no one should mistake it for comprehensive reform – it leaves many of the government's most intrusive surveillance powers untouched, and it leaves disclosure and transparency loopholes.
Read Edward's message below, and then take the next step: call the president's office and tell him to rein in Executive Order 12333. It's been used to collect info about millions of innocent people without any judicial oversight. It's time to bring the government's surveillance practices back in line with democratic values.
Anthony for the ACLU Action team
Simple truths can change the world.
Two years ago today, in a Hong Kong hotel room, three journalists and I waited nervously to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been collecting records of nearly every phone call in the United States.
Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy remains under attack.
Last month, the NSA's invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by a federal appeals court in ACLU v. Clapper, and it was disowned by Congress. And, after a White House investigation found that the program never stopped a single terrorist attack, even President Obama ordered it terminated.
This is because of you. This is the power of an informed public.
Ending mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen. Yet while we have reformed this one program, many others remain.
We need to push back and challenge the lawmakers who defend these programs. We need to make it clear that a vote in favor of mass surveillance is a vote in favor of illegal and ineffective violations of the right to privacy for all Americans.
As I said on Reddit last month, arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
We can't take the right to privacy for granted, just like we can't take the right to free speech for granted. We can't let these invasions of our rights stand.
While we worked away in that hotel room in Hong Kong, there were moments when we worried we might have put our lives at risk for nothing – that the public would react with apathy to the publication of evidence that revealed that democratic governments had been collecting and storing billions of intimate records of innocent people.
Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.
Edward Snowden for ACLU Action
Read Edward's Reddit "Ask Me Anything" conversation with the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer, and check out his op-ed in today's New York Times – Anthony
Reddit: Just days left to kill mass surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
New York Times: Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance