Prism leaker Edward Snowden released a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union today, saying that every Internet transaction that passes the borders of the United States goes through the NSA’s hands, and that no phone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA.
Here’s his full statement:
“In the last four months, we’ve learned a lot about our government.
“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. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.
“Now it’s time for the government to learn from us. On Saturday, the ACLU, EFF, and the rest of the StopWatching.Us coalition are going to D.C. Join us in sending the message: Stop Watching Us.”
Snowden is speaking out in support of the Rally Against Mass Surveillance that Stop Watching Us is organizing in Washington D.C. on Saturday, October 26, in just two days. Congressman Justin Amash will be present, as will security technologist Bruce Schneier. Former senior NSA executive and whistleblower Thomas Drake will also be there, as will the ACLU’s Laura Murphy.
Congressman Amash’s bill to reform the NSA was defeated by just seven votes in July of this year.
“We’ve got an incredible lineup of speakers and are expecting thousands to show up,” Sinah Khanifar, one of the organizers of the rally, told me via email. “Privacy is one of the hardest things to get people riled up about — it’s a freedom that erodes slowly, and for got reasons, but a critical part of a meaningful democracy nonetheless. Nevertheless, we expect this is going to be the biggest rally for privacy in the history of the country.”
Edward Snowden first came to public attention when he released documents about the government’s global spying program, Prism, to a UK newspaper back in May. Despite efforts by U.S. citizens to pardon him for what some see as a patriotic act, Snowden is currently in political asylum in Russia. Meanwhile, leaks about other NSA programs like XKeyscore and British programs such as Tempora have continued to flow.
According to revelations, or at least accusations that Snowden has made, the NSA can:
- wiretap anyone, almost instantly, as long as it has their email address
- see your real-time Internet activity
- read anyone’s email
- monitor Facebook chats
- see “nearly everything” you do online
- get your IP address by searching for visitors to any specified site
“The rally this Saturday is likely to be the biggest privacy rally in US history,” Khanifar says. “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. Privacy is one of our country’s founding principles — we need to make sure we preserve it.”