Fight for the Future


CREDO, Demand Progress and Fight for the Future praise temporary  PATRIOT Act sunset, criticize vote to advance USA Freedom Act

Posted 21:23 EDT on May 31, 2015

The fake-reform bill is an attack on civil liberties and codifies some of the worst mass surveillance abuses of the PATRIOT Act

The expiration of key PATRIOT Act provisions – even if only temporary – is a victory for the countless civil liberties activists in every congressional district in the country who, since Edward Snowden blew the whistle on government surveillance, have fought for real reform. It demonstrates that the public can win battles in Congress that just a few years ago we were barely able to fight at all.

However, the Senate failed the American people today. Despite overwhelming evidence that Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act violates our civil liberties without making us safer, the Senate overwhelmingly bowed to pressure from surveillance agencies and voted to advance a bill that would renew their illegal and ineffective mass surveillance authorities under the PATRIOT Act.

The USA FREEDOM Act is a mass surveillance bill dressed up as a reform bill, and its passage will authorize unconstitutional surveillance practices.

Given the cloture vote, it seems very likely that the USA FREEDOM Act will pass. But if that happens, each member of the U.S. Senate will be on record for re-instating, with full knowledge of illegal implementation, the largest scale violation of the U.S. Constitution in America’s history – one that is overwhelmingly unpopular with voters, and they will carry that failure through the rest of their political careers.

The expiration of the some of the worst abuses of the PATRIOT Act completely changes the political dynamics in the fight to end mass surveillance. The overwhelming majority of the sitting members of Congress never voted on the PATRIOT Act, and if they vote to reinstate Section 215 they will have gone on the record and must take direct responsibility for authorizing clearly unconstitutional and profoundly unpopular spying.

We will continue fighting to repeal the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, rein in the surveillance state, and place real checks on government surveillance.

“As a telecom that can be compelled to participate in unconstitutional spying on Americans accused of no crimes, it’s of the greatest urgency that we end the worst abuses of the PATRIOT Act,” said Becky Bond, Vice President of CREDO Mobile. “Our surveillance agencies have gone rogue, and sunsetting the PATRIOT Act – even if just for a few days – is the first real step we’ve taken toward restoring civil liberties taken away in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Elected officials who voted to restore this dangerous mass surveillance authority via the USA FREEDOM Act cannot going forward claim to carry the mantle of civil liberties reform.”

“The overwhelming majority of Americans who don’t want to be indiscriminately spied on by their very own government have brought their will to bear in this fight – and have upended the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that said a sunset was impossible,” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “The fiercely contested battle over the PATRIOT Act and its temporary sunset demonstrate the growing power of the mass movement to reform America’s out-of-control surveillance agencies. With the expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, each senator must now go on record and publicly decide whether to protect our civil liberties or codify unconstitutional government spying all over again through the USA FREEDOM Act.”

“Sunsetting the Patriot Act is the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs, and one that conventional DC wisdom said was impossible. We are seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – and there’s no turning back now,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future.

“It was like Congress had some sick fetish for George Orwell jokes, or couldn’t wait for the next Hunger Games to come out,” said Fight for the Future co-founder, Holmes Wilson, “They were about to reauthorize spying on the emails and calls of every American with a bill called ‘USA Freedom!’"

Press call Monday morning:

The organizations behind this release, and others, will take part in a press call to discuss the sunset and the USA FREEDOM Act tomorrow morning.

WHAT: An hour-long press call to discuss the Senate vote on the USA Patriot Act and the USA FREEDOM Act

WHEN: 9:00am EST Monday, June 1, 2015

WHERE: RSVP Ashley Houghton at Ashley@rethinkmedia.org for call in details.

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Thousands of websites call for Sunset of the PATRIOT Act by blacking out access to Congress’ IP addresses, redirecting to naked photos submitted by NSA protesters

Posted 12:03 EDT on May 29, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2015

Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org

Thousands of websites call for Sunset of the PATRIOT Act by blacking out access to Congress’ IP addresses, redirecting to naked photos submitted by NSA protesters

14,000 sites have joined the campaign since it was launched last night

THE INTERNET—More than 14,000 websites are blocking access from Congressional IP addresses and redirecting those visitors to a site with naked photos submitted by activists protesting the PATRIOT Act, a law that the NSA and FBI have abused to conduct mass surveillance millions of people suspected of no wrongdoing.

The protest was launched last night and quickly gained popularity in a thread on reddit’s r/techonology that has garnered more than 5,800 upvotes. The protest comes just days before Congress is expected to vote on the future of the Patriot Act. Privacy advocates from across the political spectrum have called for Congress to allow Section 215 of the bill to expire, and are asking lawmakers to oppose any reauthorization of surveillance authorities including through the USA Freedom Act, a “fake reform” bill that fails to end bulk collection.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future organized the protest through its project the Internet Defense League, a network of websites that have been working together to protect Internet freedom since the massive online protests against the SOPA/PIPA censorship bills.

“Congress voted to authorize the government’s illegal mass surveillance programs. This is their mess to clean up,” said Fight for the Future co-founder, Tiffiniy Cheng, “People are fed up. No one wants to live in a world without privacy where they aren’t free to express themselves. People will continue to stand up and fight for free speech, and Congress should expect nothing but resistance until they end these abusive programs that threaten our most basic rights.”

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Internet Activists Celebrate Historic Departure from PATRIOT Act Status Quo

Posted 03:42 EDT on May 23, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2015

Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org

Internet Activists Celebrate Historic Departure from Patriot Act Status Quo

After 40+ “Sunset” vigils across the country, millions of emails, hundreds of thousands of phone calls to Congress, and tens of thousands of websites protesting, Congress rejected two attempts to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act early Saturday morning

WASHINGTON––The United States Senate has rejected two surveillance bills that would have reauthorized expiring sections of the Patriot Act – either carte blanche for two months or in an updated form until 2019. Congress has been faced with how to address the bulk collection of data after these programs were revealed by Edward Snowden, and since studies of these programs have shown they have had a negligible effect on thwarting terrorism cases.

Fight for the Future, the prominent digital rights group best known for their role in the massive SOPA and net neutrality protests, and the Reset the Net campaign, which was endorsed by Edward Snowden, celebrated the victory. The group helped organize dozens of “Sunset Vigils” across the U.S. on Thursday (see photos here).

Fight for the Future and many other privacy groups had criticized the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would have reauthorized some of the worst sections of the PATRIOT Act without meaningfully curtailing government spying. The group’s representatives issued the following statements about today’s historic victory:

“Sunsetting the Patriot Act is the biggest win for ending mass surveillance programs, and one that conventional DC wisdom said was impossible. We are seeing history in the making and it was because the public stood up for our rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association – and there’s no turning back now,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future.

According to a White House memo to Congress, the Senate’s failure to renew provisions of the PATRIOT Act means that the NSA must begin shutting down its domestic mass surveillance programs this week, possibly only temporarily.

“These bills were an attempt to disregard the abuses revealed by Snowden and cement mass surveillance into law in defiance of the Constitution, the courts, and public sentiment,” said Jeff Lyon, CTO of Fight for the Future. “The failure of these bills to pass shows just how dramatically the politics of surveillance changed once the extent of the government’s surveillance programs became known to the public.”

“It was like Congress had some sick fetish for George Orwell jokes, or couldn’t wait for the next Hunger Games to come out,” said Fight for the Future co-founder, Holmes Wilson, “They were about to reauthorize spying on the emails and calls of every American with a bill called ‘USA Freedom!’"

“Congress got a pass before, because we didn’t know for sure that the US government was illegally interpreting our laws to conduct mass surveillance programs. But, now that these programs have seen the light of day, they’re responsible for enacting mass surveillance into law or discontinuing it,” added Cheng. “Some members of Congress are now on record for voting against the Constitution, 240 years of legislative intent, and the public will of the last hundred years, and for mass surveillance programs.”  

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Protesters gather in dozens of cities to call for the end of the PATRIOT Act as the future of NSA spying hangs in the balance

Posted 01:45 EDT on May 22, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2015

Media contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457
Email: press@fightforthefuture.org

Protesters gather in dozens of cities to call for the end of the PATRIOT Act as the future of NSA spying hangs in the balance

Activists across the country held signs, computers, and tablets outside Senate offices with one message: “Sunset the PATRIOT Act.” Edward Snowden promoted the vigils, while 12,000+ websites join in solidarity

As the sun set on Thursday, activists and Internet users of varying political stripes gathered outside Senate offices across the country and in Washington, DC to call for Congress to oppose any reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act and instead let key provisions that enable NSA spying to sunset on June 1st.

Click here to see photos from the vigils: http://imgur.com/a/iDSvA

Click here or here to see short videos from the vigil in San Francisco

The “Sunset Vigils” were organized in a rapid-response fashion by Internet activists using Facebook events, email, and social media to spread the word on less than 48 hours notice,

Whistleblower Edward Snowden encouraged redditors to attend the protests during his reddit AMA on Thursday afternoon, and more than 12,000 websites quickly mobilized to spread the word about the action using a “widget” released by the Internet Defense League.

Advocacy groups including Color of Change, CREDO, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, MoveOn, Popular Resistance, and Restore the Fourth supported the vigils.

“The U.S. government is losing our trust every single day that these illegal spying programs continue,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “The crowds that gathered at sunset today are only the beginning. It’s time we come together and let the sun go down on this dark age of government surveillance. Together we will end the PATRIOT Act, and the sun can rise on a new day filled with freedom and privacy for all.”

“Just a few weeks ago an expiration of 215 of any length seemed impossible, but hundreds of thousands have spoken out and upended conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom” said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.  “More than 13 years since the Patriot Act’s passage, and after craven abuse of Section 215 and other authorities, we are reminded why sunsets are written into bills like this: It is time for the intelligence agencies to answer for their violations of the public trust.”

“The PATRIOT Act, passed when the nation was in shock from the September 11 attacks, was never meant to be permanent. That’s why sunset was written into the law,” said Becky Bond, Vice President of CREDO Mobile. “Our surveillance agencies have gone rogue, and sunsetting the PATRIOT Act – even if just for a few days – would be the first real step Congress has taken toward ending unconstitutional spying on Americans,” Bond continued.

““The NSA got caught with its hand in the cookie jar”, said Alex Marthews, national chair of Restore The Fourth. “The security agencies have been misusing the PATRIOT Act in order to spy on us all. Explain to me why we should let them keep doing it, instead of confining them to their real job: Spying on actual criminals and actual agents of foreign powers?”

“The balance between national security and civil liberties has been out of whack for more than a decade,“ said Free Press Action Fund Government Relations Manager Sandra Fulton. "People have had enough of government efforts to spy on all aspects of our lives. The nationwide sunset vigils have sent a signal to Washington: It’s time we closed this chapter on mass surveillance and restored everyone’s rights to connect and communicate in private.”

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See a full gallery of photos at http://imgur.com/a/iDSvA

New York City, NY

Washington, DC

Minneapolis, MN

Washington, DC

Chicago, IL

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BREAKING: Patriot Act has 48 hours to live.

Posted 13:26 EDT on May 21, 2015
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We’re so close to making the government get a legit warrant before they can monitor and track us. For all the people who have ever wanted to see or worked towards the end of the Patriot Act over the past dozen years, this is our moment. 

If Congress does nothing—something they are very good at—the NSA’s mass phone data collection will begin shutting down on Friday. And on midnight of Monday, June 1, 2015, the section of the Patriot Act that has been used (illegally) to justify mass surveillance will sunset and no longer be U.S. law.

Holy shit.

If you want the Patriot Act to die a quick and painless death (and even if you secretly want it to struggle and suffer, alone and afraid) Join us THIS EVENING at one of our 50+ nationwide Sunset the Patriot Act vigils.

Here’s why we have such a golden opportunity right now.

Because of Rand Paul’s filibuster of the Senate yesterday, things have been pushed back so that a vote on limiting debate on whether or not to begin debate of reauthorization of the Patriot Act (either straight up or under the Orwellian “USA Freedom Act”) won’t happen until Saturday, after the NSA begins winding down its collection program. These motions on the reauthorization bills will require 60 votes to be approved, and that seems unlikely at this point. If they do somehow get 60 votes, a final vote won’t happen until Wednesday of next week.

But here’s the thing. All bills have to go through both the Senate and the House of Representatives before they can become law, and the House is leaving for vacation today until after the Patriot Act section expires. The House has already passed the USA Freedom Act, which renews the Patriot Act, so the only real way for Congress to stop a sunset at this point is for the Senate to pass that bill.

Our vote count shows that the Senate doesn’t have the votes to pass it, so if we can prevent a few on-the-fence Senators from siding with the NSA on this, we will be going back to a world where law enforcement and Intelligence officials need to actually get a warrant to spy on us.

At that point, if Congress wants to bring back the ability for the government to spy on us without a warrant they will need to affirmatively re-legislate the PATRIOT Act. It won’t be just a matter of extending sunset dates anymore. Every member of Congress will have to go down on the record saying they don’t want the government to have to seek a warrant to spy on us, which is a very unpopular position and something that 2/3rds of the House of Representatives have never had to vote on.

We are so close to an epic win on mass surveillance. That’s why we’re hosting sunset vigils across the country this evening at senators’ local offices to call on the Patriot Act to expire.

If you want this win; If you want the government to have to get a warrant before they can spy on you, your communications, and your family, Join us tonight.

Find a local Sunset the Patriot Act vigil here.

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