Internet firms Mozilla, Reddit and 4chan have joined their voices with 86 other organisations, including Access and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, urging US lawmakers to immediately halt its PRISM web snooping programme.
The organisations have signed a letter to Congress calling on US lawmakers to immediately halt PRISM and other forms of surveillance.
The letter coincided with the coalition’s launch of StopWatching.Us, a petition site demanding an inquiry into the scope and scale of the National Security Agency (NSA)’s spying activities.
“Mass surveillance is a violation of the fundamental rights of internet users around the globe,” said Access’ executive director Brett Solomon.
“We stand for the defence of the universal rights of all users to privacy and due process. Programmes such as these are part of an alarming trend towards pervasive state surveillance and control of communications that violates individual rights, no matter what country you live in.”
Last week, the actions of disenchanted CIA contractor Edward Snowden led to major revelations that the US government employed a technology called PRISM that enabled it to spy on the activities of users of sites and services like Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and others.
While the director of National Intelligence for the US government James R Clapper has dismissed the reports as “containing numerous inaccuracies” he said the revelations could actually endanger lives.
US President Barack Obama waded into the debate in recent days by saying he and his colleagues, upon entering office, evaluated the systems used by the NSA and felt that a balance had been struck in defending the US against potential terrorist attacks.
The debate has raised hackles in Europe among lawmakers who are rattled that the US government has taken it upon itself to carry out surveillance of EU citizens without permission. It is expected that European lawmakers may pick apart existing data privacy and sharing agreements with the US.
Viviene Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, is expected to raise the matter at an EU-US meeting in Dublin this Thursday.
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