Edward Snowden receiving the Sam Adams award for Intelligence Integrity in Moscow, via Wikimedia Commons
This Saturday, October 26th, the StopWatching.Us coalition—a group of 100 organizations, companies, and public figures—is holding its Rally Against Mass Surveillance in Washington, DC. And the man who triggered the massive anti-surveillance movement, Edward Snowden, is throwing his weight behind the rally.
"In the last four months, we've learned a lot about our government," wrote Snowden in a statement made through the ACLU blog. "We've learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands."
Snowden called out Congress for telling Americans and the international community that this data mining isn't surveillance. He also stated that it was time for the government to learn from the people. "On Saturday, the ACLU, EFF, and the rest of the StopWatching.Us coalition are going to DC. Join us in sending the message: Stop Watching Us," he added.
Yesterday, StopWatching.Us released a video featuring appearances by the likes of famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer representing six NSA whistleblowers who are being prosecuted by the U.S. government. Also, Phil Donahue.
"Everything that's happening at the moment—the national conversation about privacy, the protest this Saturday, the bills weaving their way through Congress—we owe all of it to Snowden," StopWatching.Us organizer Sina Khanifar told me. "It's really encouraging to have his support, and makes the work we've done organizing over the last month feel all the more justified."
Khanifar believes that this Saturday's Rally Against Mass Surveillance will likely be the biggest privacy rally in US history. "Finally we're seeing bills being introduced in Congress that would help reinstate digital privacy, and this rally will be a powerful moment to show Congress that the people really do care," added Khanifar. "Privacy is one of our country's founding principles—we need to make sure we preserve it.
Starting at 12:00pm, there will be a gathering and pre-rally at Columbus Circle. At 12:30, participants will march to the Capitol Hill Reflecting Pool, where they will be treated to speeches by a range of figures, including former NSA senior executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), security technologist Bruce Schneier, and Kymone Freeman, director of the National Black LUV Fest, amongst others. Rather fittingly, the rally will take place on the 12th anniversary of the passage of the PATRIOT Act, making the occasion all the more resonant.