On July 2nd 2013 the Restore the Fourth national organizers did a reddit AMA if you would like to check that out as well.
How do you know that the U.S. government has been spying on electronic communications without valid warrants?
According to the Washington Post, nine major Internet companies allegedly opened their servers to government surveillance: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and Apple. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a timeline detailing the NSA domestic spying over the past decade. The leaks provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have provided further evidence for severe overreach by the National Security Agency. His leaks were corroborated by three other NSA whistleblowers, as laid out by The Atlantic. The Guardian runs a page dedicated to documenting leaks about the NSA and you can investigate yourself there.
What happens as a result of unconstitutional government spying on electronic communications?
The NSA has the authority to indiscriminately record the electronic communications of all American citizens. Although it sounds illegal, the legality is not so clear. Various pieces of legislation, including the USA PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allow abuse of ambiguously defined constraints on government power. The laws enable the government to record anyone's communications without a warrant if it does not target specific persons. Then, the NSA requests a warrant from secret, non-adversarial court when it decides someone may have committed a crime. In order to retroactively find evidence against the person, the NSA accesses the stored surveillance data. The defendant may not use the same surveillance data stored by the NSA to argue his or her innocence, since it is classified information.
I haven't done anything wrong; why should I care if the government spies on me?
Privacy is not an admission of guilt. To be secure in their persons is a default privilege of all people. The average person expects privacy in many situations, including but not limited to using the bathroom, writing a diary, or going on a date with a spouse. A reasonable expectation of privacy exists in such situations because the events occurring are personal, intimate, and not the business of any other party, government or otherwise.
Restore the Fourth expects, and asserts that the government acknowledge, privacy with respect to digital communications data. Indeed, the movement to Restore the Fourth is more about principle than the direct impact of spying on the average citizen. It is about maintaining the Fourth Amendment, which America's forefathers carefully wrote for the express purpose of limiting the government's ability to violate the deserved privacy of its law-abiding constituents.
If the surveillance has been stopping terrorists, isn't that worth giving up some privacy?
It hasn't stopped all of them, and there is little to no evidence of any terrorist attacks that have directly been foiled as a result of PRISM. Several domestic terrorist attacks have occurred in the United States since the beginning of PRISM in 2007. There is a diminishing return in security for every bit of privacy lost by the average American.
Do you have a position on "the NDAA"?
We oppose section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA because we believe its provisions for "indefinite detainment" violate the Fourth Amendment. We focus on search and surveillance, however, so the NDAA is not currently the subject of our protests. If you are interested in participating in an organization that does focus on the NDAA, consider PANDA.
Why don't you care about related issues, like defending whistleblowers, or other parts of the Bill of Rights?
We believe remaining a carefully focused, one-issue movement will help build as broad and diverse a coalition of allies as possible, and help concentrate our efforts for greater results. Of course, that Restore the Fourth isn't focused on something doesn't mean its participants think it doesn't matter. Most or nearly all of our members could still feel strongly about any given related issue, or even be fighting for it in projects independent from Restore the Fourth.
Did Restore the Fourth originate from the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street or some other group?
No. Restore the Fourth is an original, independent organization. We have, however, worked with people associated with each and appreciate any support or promotion anyone wishes to give us.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Restore the Fourth aims to end all forms of unconstitutional surveillance of digital communications by the U.S. government. One specific program Restore the Fourth seeks to discontinue is known as PRISM, which is run by the National Security Agency.
How are you going to do this?
Restore the Fourth facilitates local non-violent protests around the country, such as those that were held on July 4, 2013. The purpose of the rallies is to spread awareness of and spur political action against unconstitutional surveillance by the U.S. government. We also engage in other action to spread awareness and spur political action, such as campaigning to have people call Congress.
How is Restore the Fourth structured?
Restore the Fourth is a network of diverse and independently-run local chapters and a national organization that promotes, coordinates, and provides assistance to these local chapters.
The national organization is currently in the process of filing for some kind of legally recognized status, most likely some version of a 501c organization.
Who runs the national organization?
The national organization is currently comprised of a board of six individuals located all across North America. We meet and coordinate with eachother (and other contributors to national activities, and local organizations) primarily via email and online voice conferences.
The national organization, like the local chapters, is currently staffed entirely by unpaid volunteers.
We are in the process of conferencing with local organizers on the creation of an official structure for internal decision-making.
How can I contact Restore the Fourth?
Correspondence can be sent to:
5405 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 374
Los Angeles, CA 90036
General inquiries about our policy and activities can be made by emailing: [email protected]
Press inquiries and inquiries about our social media accounts can be made by emailing: [email protected] or, in urgent cases, by calling (202) 657-4414
You can also interact with organizers and with the Restore the Fourth community via our various social media accounts. A phone number for general inquiries will be made available shortly.
How can I get involved with a group in my area?
Local chapters are run independently and are generally launched by whoever in that region decided to take the initiative to launch it. You can find some of them on the events page. A full-fledged index of local chapters is in the works. In the meantime you can start by searching for "Restore the Fourth (your city)" on Duck Duck Go, Ixquick, Startpage, or any other search engine. See if there's a website, Google Group, Facebook page, Twitter account, reddit forum, etc. created already. If you can't find anything, start your own!
How can I get involved with the national organization?
There's a lot of work that needs to be done at the national level as well: marketing, social media, PR, writing/blogging, web design, and more. If you're interested in getting involved, please fill out this form!
Are you taking donations?
We ran an indiegogo campaign in early July with which we raised over $8000, and when it expired we stopped taking online donations. We will be opening an official merchant account shortly and once we've done so we will start taking online donations again.
If you'd like to send a donation via check or money order, you can use the address above.
Please note that most donations to the national organization go to promotion (both of the national organization and local events) and administrative costs related to our own operations, not on-the-ground events. If there's an upcoming event in your area that seems promising, also consider helping the local organizers out with their expenses.
What else can I do?
- Educate yourself and others by reading and spreading information on the issues, such as those on our Resources Page.
- Spread the message by joining our various social media pages and promoting them to others.
- Fight For the Future offers a phone number through which local congressmen can be contacted and urged to strengthen the Fourth Amendment: 1-STOP-323-NSA.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a page for emailing your local congressman.
- Use the templates on our Resources Page to send a physical letter to your local congressman.