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Mozilla and 85 others send an anti-PRISM letter to Congress

Web firms and civil liberties groups are up in arms
Tue Jun 11 2013, 16:45

A LARGE ASSORTMENT OF INTERNET and software firms as well as civil liberties groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have expressed their firm opposition to Orwellian US National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM surveillance of the internet.

In a letter 86 organisations have written to Congress and demanded that the NSA halt its "dragnet surveillance".

PRISM, in case you missed it, is a seemingly all-encompassing hidden surveillance system that collects all sorts of information on everyone that uses various services provided by a number of internet firms.

While Google and Facebook have both tried to distance themselves from the PRISM surveillance programme, Mozilla has gone much further with its Stop Watching Us campaign.

Mozilla and the EFF, 4Chan, the American Civil Liberties Union, Fight for the Future, the Free Software Foundation, Greenpeace and dozens more are calling for an immediate halt to the use of PRISM, and have demanded that Congress act. They want a thorough investigation that exposes all information about PRISM such as who is involved and how.

"This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy," the letter reads.

"We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs."

Mozilla is taking credit for the Stop Watching Us movement and in a blog post, Alex Fowler, head of privacy and public policy for Mozilla, warned that there has been a steady surveillance creep.

"Mozilla hasn't received any such order to date, but it could happen to us as we build new server-based services in the future," he said.

"There are a number of problems with this kind of electronic surveillance. First, the internet is making it much easier to use these powers. There's a lot more data to be had. The legal authority to conduct electronic surveillance has grown over the past few years, because the laws are written broadly. And, as users, we don't have good ways of knowing whether the current system is being abused, because it's all happening behind closed doors."

PRISM opponents are urged to join the Stop Watching Us movement and sign its petition.

The scale of PRISM is not fully known, and in the UK the Open Rights Group has asked for a Parliamentary investigation. µ


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