The U.S. government and its partners are snooping on everything we do online. The documents Edward Snowden released nearly two years ago have laid the facts bare.
"We've got agencies looking through webcams into people's bedrooms," Snowden told Amnesty International recently. "And they're collecting billions of cell phone location records a day. They know where you got on the bus, where you went to work, where you slept, and what other cell phones slept with you.
Some people say: 'If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide'. But that puts huge trust in U.S. politicians to do the right thing. "We could have the most responsible government in the world today," says Snowden. "But tomorrow there could be a change."
Join us and call on President Obama to ban mass surveillance, including by amending Executive Order 12333, an obscure presidential order that the NSA is using to conduct global surveillance with extremely little accountability.
I urge you to end indiscriminate mass surveillance practices that are jeopardizing the privacy of millions of Americans and people around the world. You do not need to wait for legislation to reach your desk. You can use your authority right now, including by amending Executive Order 12333—an order signed more than thirty years ago by President Ronald Reagan that the NSA is using to conduct global surveillance with extremely little accountability.
In June 2013, whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed the existence of mass communications surveillance programs conducted by the United States of America and the United Kingdom, as well as vast sharing of intercepted Internet and phone communications between the governments of the USA, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand (the Five Eyes Alliance). These mass surveillance and intelligence-sharing operations are undertaken indiscriminately, without clear rules subject to public scrutiny and with very limited - if any - oversight and safeguards against abuse.
These programs are a violation of the human rights of people across the globe. They violate privacy on a massive scale and have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.
For the U.S. government, one of the most profoundly worrying aspects is Executive Order 12333, a presidential order that is shrouded in secrecy and has never been subject to meaningful oversight by Congress or a U.S. court. There is much we do not know, but what is clear is that the National Security Agency (NSA) is relying on this obscure executive order to justify expansive surveillance activities worldwide---reportedly including the vacuuming up of billions of mobile phone records, email address books, and in some cases even entire countries’
That's why I am urging you to amend Executive Order 12333 now, to prohibit indiscriminate mass surveillance.
I also urge you and the other leaders of the Five Eyes Alliance to:
- End any existing indiscriminate mass surveillance programs and practices without further delay and ensure that all communications surveillance measures comply with international human rights law;
- Ensure that surveillance of communications is the exception and only happens when absolutely necessary, targeted, based on sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, and authorized by a strictly independent authority, such as a judge. All officials must respect these safeguards;
- Make the rules and policies governing surveillance practices publicly available, including with regard to the sharing of information with other states;
- Ensure that there is transparent and independent parliamentary and judicial oversight of surveillance powers;
- Protect people from indiscriminate or otherwise abusive surveillance of communications by other states;
- End intelligence sharing relationships with foreign states that subject individuals' communications to surveillance that contravenes international human rights law.