Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Thousands of protesters marched to the Capitol Saturday calling for a stop the mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The protesters carried placards with the messages “No NSA mass spying,” and “Thank you, Edward Snowden,” the former NSA contractor who leaked to the press the agency’s secret collection of telephone call and Internet use metadata early this year.
Stop Watching Us, a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy groups, organized the rally that also aims to deliver a petition to Congress to NSA’s surveillance of private phone calls and web surfing. Half a million signatures were collected on Saturday.
The coalition consisted of the American Civil Liberties Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, Government Accountability Project and Occupy Wall Street-NYC.
Congress came up with a measure to curb phone data collection but it failed to pass on a 205-217 vote in the House in July. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) are working on another similar measure, according to David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.
The anti-NSA rally coincided with the 12th anniversary of the passage of the Patriot Act, which allowed the surveillance for counter-terrorism. The demonstration also came days after reports that NSA eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and 35 world leaders, eliciting protest from America’s European allies.