On October 26th, thousands of people from all walks of life converged on Washington, DC in a demonstration against the NSA's mass surveillance.
Among the crowd were dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of proud EFF members, including many showing off their EFF membership cards and t-shirts.
The historic Rally Against Mass Surveillance, held on the twelfth anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act, included speakers like NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, security expert (and EFF board member) Bruce Schneier, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Congressman Justin Amash. The lineup also included a range of musicians - including Indie pop sensation YACHT, who played their hit song Party at the NSA.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, currently on temporary asylum in Russia, sent a statement to be read aloud at the rally:
We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant but from seizing them in the first place.
Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country.
Read Snowden's entire statement here.
Dozens of major news outlets covered the event. It was featured on the TODAY Show and was a leading story for NBC Nightly News, as well as being prominently featured in dozens of other television, radio, print, and web outlets.
For those who couldn't attend in person, the rally was livestreamed on the stopwatching.us website (where more than 13,000 viewers watched) and broadcast live on CSPAN. You can watch the whole rally here.
The rally culminated in the official delivery of the Stopwatching.us petition to Representative Justin Amash (R-MI), who then gave a speech calling for Congressional action to end mass spying. This petition—signed by over 575,000 people and endorsed by over 100 organizations and companies—calls for Congress to end mass surveillance through a full Congressional investigation and reform to federal surveillance law.
This rally couldn't have come at a better moment. Right now, Congress is grappling with how to address NSA surveillance. Even as concerned people around the world are calling on them to rein in the NSA, some members of Congress—led by Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)—are introducing the so-called FISA Improvements Act of 2013, legislation designed to legalize and extend the surveillance.
EFF is fighting back, and we'll need your help to do it. In the coming days we'll be launching an aggressive campaign to take down the fake fix touted by Senator Feinstein and demand real reform. We're also continuing the battle in the courts, with two active lawsuits alleging that NSA spying violates the Constitution.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who helped make the Rally Against Mass Surveillance a success. It was made possible by a diverse coalition of organizations, people, and companies that believe the NSA's dragnet surveillance strikes at the heart of a free society. We couldn't have done with without a huge coalition of friends and the support of thousands of EFF members.
The rally was the beginning of the fight, and we're gearing up for a major battle in Congress. With your help, we'll be able to end the NSA's uncontrolled dragnet surveillance once and for all.
See video of the rally below, or check out more photos here.