(RNN) - Media coverage regarding former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leaks about the U.S. government's mass surveillance system has focused mostly on his flight to China and then Russia and less on the shocking content of his revelations.
But thousands of people in cities around the country hope to bring the conversation back to allegations that the government is violating the Fourth Amendment by holding many nationwide rallies on the Fourth of July.
The activists are organizing on the social media site Reddit.com through a subreddit named Restore the Fourth, which was created shortly after Snowden's leaks attracted the attention of the worldwide media. According to one of the organizers, who asked to be named only by his screen name, timetoact2013, the goal is "to stop the NSA's unconstitutional spying and to regain the respect the Fourth Amendment deserves."
In order to do that, rallies are being planned for the Fourth of July in several cities around the country, including New York and Los Angeles, as well as Atlanta; Birmingham, AL; Memphis, TN; Louisville, KY; Cleveland, OH; Portland, OR, and more. A complete list is available on the Restore the Fourth's website.
According to the Restore the Fourth subreddit, there are 77 protests planned across the country, with more in Canada and the United Kingdom.
While the aim of the rallies is to bring the country's attention back to the scandal of the NSA surveillance program, organizers hope that the Fourth of July efforts will impact people enough to mobilize them beyond Independence Day and create a sustained movement that will eventually roll back some of the government's surveillance powers.
"There will almost definitely be more rallies beyond the Fourth of July, but you can expect other political action, too," said timetoact2013. "The actions of the movement, of course, heavily depend on how much steam Restore the Fourth acquires; we hope to be a central driving force for change with regard to the Fourth Amendment's strength."
Although much of the protest organizing is being done through Reddit, the movement to "restore" the Fourth Amendment is not restricted mostly to anonymous people on the internet.
Mozilla, the creators of one of the most popular internet browsers, is leading StopWatching.US, a coalition of internet freedom activists and other concerned parties that is making a direct appeal to the U.S. Congress to make specific changes to the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments that would effectively make it illegal to have a mass surveillance system like the one that is currently in place.
"This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy," the StopWatching.US coalition says in an open letter to the U.S. Congress.
It continues: "This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures and protect their right to privacy."
The letter is signed on by groups as varied as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association, Occupy Wall Street, and the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association. Many influential individuals have also signed, including Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. In all, the letter had more than 500,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
Snowden leaked NSA information that revealed that the U.S. government is collecting metadata from the phone calls, emails, and internet activity of everyone in the country. With this in mind, it might seem strange that millions of people are using the internet to organize against an internet surveillance program. But timetoact2013 said past movements against oppression have served as an inspiration for him and others who believe the NSA surveillance program is infringing on the rights of people.
"As dissidents of the past have stood their ground against the oppressive forces of teargas, water cannons, and mass arrests, so must we stand our ground in the face of oppressive surveillance," he said.
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