On June 5, 2013, the Guardian exposed a top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that requires Verizon to give the National Security Agency records — so-called “metadata” — on all telephone calls in its systems.

The next day, the Guardian reported on the PRISM program, which allows the NSA to access millions of users’ emails and Web activity. PRISM and programs like it allow massive collection of communications from people outside the U.S., but they also sweep in domestic data.

The NSA’s spying programs threaten our basic rights to connect, communicate and organize. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and assembly, and the Fourth Amendment guarantees protection from warrantless seizure.

But companies like AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Verizon are tracking our phone calls and monitoring our emails, Web chats and other online activity — creating giant databases that are ripe for NSA spying. Worse, some of these companies are colluding with the government in ways that threaten free expression, privacy and the public interest.

The Free Press Action Fund helped found the Stop Watching Us coalition, which launched a petition calling for NSA accountability and legal reforms to protect our privacy. So far more than 580,000 individuals and hundreds of organizations have signed on.

The coalition is urging Congress to form a special committee to investigate and report on the extent of the NSA’s spying. It’s the only way we can find out exactly what’s taking place.

We’re also calling for revisions to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act so that they explicitly prohibit the blanket surveillance of Internet activity and phone records of U.S. residents.

The public continues to mobilize against NSA spying. On Oct. 26, 2013, the Stop Watching Us Coalition held the largest domestic rally against government spying to date. The Rally Against Mass Surveillance drew prominent speakers and thousands of people to Washington, D.C. As we move toward the anniversary of Edward Snowden’s revelations, support for surveillance reform remains strong.

Blog Posts

  • Four Ways 2014 Was a Pivotal Year for the Internet

    December 17, 2014
    At stake at the end of 2014 is whether the Internet remains a democratic, user-powered network — or falls under the control of a few powerful entities.
  • surveillance-protest

    The USA Freedom Act: What's Next?

    November 19, 2014
    On Tuesday night the USA Freedom Act failed to move forward. While this bill would have helped rein in key parts of the government’s surveillance programs, not all is lost.
  • A Chance to Rein in the NSA

    November 17, 2014
    It’s been almost 18 months since whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the NSA’s spying programs. And on Tuesday, the Senate will decide whether to move forward with the USA Freedom Act — a bill that would curb some of the government’s worst surveillance practices.
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Press Releases

  • Free Press Action Fund Praises Sen. Leahy's Bill to Curb Mass Surveillance

    July 29, 2014

    WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, the Senate introduced a revised bill designed to curtail the government's abusive mass surveillance programs and force more public scrutiny of similar violations of Americans’ privacy and free speech rights.

  • Free Press: FBI and NSA Profiling Threatens Our Most Fundamental Rights

    July 9, 2014
    WASHINGTON -- A report published today by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain in The Intercept exposes an NSA and FBI spying program that targeted prominent Muslim-Americans. Those targeted included a political candidate and former high-ranking Bush administration official, several civil rights activists, academics and lawyers.
  • Free Press Action Fund Hails Introduction of USA Freedom Act

    October 29, 2013
    UPDATE: A gutted version of the USA Freedom Act passed in the House on May 22. Because that bill removed many of the privacy protections that were present in earlier forms of the bill, the Free Press Action Fund did not support it.
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News from Around the Web

  • Civic Hall Beta Member: Tim Karr, Free Press

    January 16, 2015

    This month Civic Hall, the new home for civic tech in New York City, opened its doors to beta members like Tim Karr, of Free Press. Beta members are people working in the civic tech space who have been invited to try out Civic Hall for the month of January: to work in the space and see what it is like, and in turn provide feedback to the Civic Hall team.

  • Why Civil Rights Groups Are Warning Against 'Big Data'

    Washington Post
    February 27, 2014

    The backlash against the government's use of bulk phone records for intelligence purposes has been led mostly by technologists used to speaking the language of privacy. But a new push by civil rights organizations to challenge "big data" — both in the public and private sectors — is highlighting how the abuse of data can uniquely affect disadvantaged minorities.

  • A Mass Rally Against Mass Surveillance

    The Nation
    October 28, 2013

    What do Congressman Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning Republican from Michigan, and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who mounted unapologetically progressive campaigns for the Democratic presidential nod, have in common? They both think that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ought to be respected.

Learn More

  • Broadband

    Access to high-speed Internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

    Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the "digital divide," unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the Internet.

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good