We have a new opportunity to make our voices heard in the fight against mass surveillance—and less than a month in which to do it.
On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) published a blog post on its Tumblr requesting public comments on surveillance. Specifically, the newly created Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is seeking public comment on
how in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States can employ its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties, recognizing our need to maintain the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.
As those affected by the current dragnet state of intelligence gathering, we must take this chance to weigh in on mass surveillance—especially because the review group specifically requests commentary on issues such as "privacy and civil liberties," and the need to "maintain the public trust."
Comments must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 4, 2013.
These comments will contribute to a formal report and recommendations that the Review Group will provide to the President through the Director of National Intelligence.
This, of course, is just one report; it is not a replacement for the much-needed Congressional investigation and legislative fixes necessary to stop dragnet surveillance. But it is one opportunity to showcase the enormous public opposition to NSA’s bulk spying programs and to inject the public into the discussion—including people outside of the United States, Internet companies, academics, and the technical community.
Notably, the Review Group is specifically seeking comments relevant to how these programs "advance our [i.e. the United States'] foreign policy." We urge advocacy groups and individuals based outside of the United States to send in comments explaining that the NSA’s bulk surveillance of communications undermines America’s relationships with allies and business partners worldwide. In particular, this is an opportunity to highlight to the Review Group the consequences of the apparent disregard for any privacy rights of non-US persons in current surveillance practices.
When you send in comments, we strongly urge you to speak up and tell the ODNI that mass surveillance is the problem. Useful information for the comments can be found on the links on this page, our NSA Spying issue page and our blog posts. While transparency and oversight are important parts of a solution, the primary problem is the bulk, suspicion-less acquisition of communications and metadata from telecoms and ISPs. It is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but also severely undermines our trust and confidence in crucial communications systems.
We’ve set up a special email account to collect comments. If you submit comments to the DNI (email@example.com), please send a copy to ODNIfirstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post the comments we receive on EFF’s website to ensure there is a record available to the press and public, even if the report provided to the President does not include every comment (the announcement states that the Review Group “may determine it appropriate” to publish comments publicly but won’t commit to doing so.)
Note that comments must comply with the standards explained at the bottom of the announcement; similarly, EFF will only publish comments that meet these standards (i.e. nothing off topic or spammy, etc).
Please remember that all comments must be received by October 4, 2013. That means we have no time to lose in submitting comments and getting the word out.