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Americans attempt to throw off oppressive, unresponsive rulers on 4th of July

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Online activists will leave their offices, bedrooms and basements today and fan out across America to protest against the US government's surveillance of digital communications.

The 4th of July protests will see demonstrators descend on more than 100 cities, while some 30,000 websites are expected to show messages demanding that NSA spooks stop snooping through the world's data.

Websites including Mozilla, Reddit, 4Chan and Wordpress have all agreed to carry a banner carrying a passage from the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution which says:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

The protests are organised by a group called Fight for the Future and the Internet Defence League, a network of 30,000 websites that all back an open internet. Both organisations were involved in the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which saw big websites including Wikipedia and Google black out their pages, with some stopping all services.

It is unlikely Google or several other big firms like Facebook will join in with this latest protest, as they stand accused of handing over tonnes of private data to NSA spooks.

“The U.S. Government has been systematically spying on people all over the globe, violating their human rights,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, from the Internet Defense League and Fight for the Future. “The NSA programs that have been exposed are blatantly unconstitutional, and have a detrimental effect on free speech and freedom of press worldwide. This is going to be our biggest protest since SOPA, and it should be no surprise. You can’t disregard people’s privacy, invade their personal lives on a daily basis, and not expect them to fight back."

An estimated 4 million people will join in by tweeting the words "This 4th of July, I stand by the Fourth Amendment and against NSA mass surveillance", although it is hoped that up to 10 million people might get involved with the so-called social media "thunderclap".

Backers of the campaign have also been asked to write to their member of congress and donate cash so that $25,000 can be raised to pay for a series of television adverts on networks across America.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is backing the demonstrations.

"We're glad to see the Restore the Fourth movement organizing protests across the country against unlawful NSA spying," EFF activism director Rainey Reitman said in a statement. "We hope these protests push elected officials to respond to the American people's growing discontent with dragnet domestic surveillance."

Edward Snowden is still on the run after leaking documents revealing various NSA operations including the PRISM surveillance on users of popular cloud services and networks including Facebook and Google. ®

Bootnote

Today is the Fourth of July, when citizens of the former British colonies lying between Canada and Mexico commemorate the day in 1776 when they cut their ties with the oppressive British state. Among other things this meant that legal slavery continued in large parts of the Land of the Free for some decades after it would have been outlawed had the USA remained British. - Ed

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