Reddit, Mozilla, EFF and more join July 4th anti-NSA protests

To protest the NSA spying program on Independence Day, dozens of top Web sites will display a Fourth Amendment banner, and thousands of people will participate in street protests across the country.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
The organization Restore the Fourth is organizing anti-NSA street protests across the U.S. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Rallying around the Fourth of July holiday, several Web sites have come together to take part in a nationwide protest over the National Security Agency's surveillance program.

Organized by the nonprofit Fight for the Future, thousands of sites -- including some heavy-hitters like Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress.org, and 4chan -- will be staging online protests.

Rather than going black, like many sites did during the 2012 protests of Congress' Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA, these sites will prominently display a Fourth Amendment banner. The banner will quote the text of the amendment, 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."

Additionally, site visitors will be asked to sign an online petition, e-mail Congress, or join street protests. A group called Restore the Fourth is organizing the street demonstrations in nearly 100 U.S. cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

One of the major differences between the Fourth of July anti-NSA protests and the 2012 SOPA protests is the absence of top tech companies such as Google and Facebook. This may be because many of these companies -- including Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Facebook, Google, and Apple -- were alleged to be involved in the NSA PRISM scandal.

The NSA is one of the biggest surveillance and eavesdropping agencies in the U.S. and was where former CIA employee and whistle-blower Edward Snowden was working when he decided to leak some of the agency's top-secret documents to the press last month.

This document leak has led to the public finding out that the government has been working to spy on people via metadata from Internet companies and cellular records in two programs -- the 2015 Program and PRISM. The NSA and the Obama administration have said the goals of the surveillance programs is to track down foreign terrorists and terrorist threats.

However, since the leak, many politicians and tech leaders have come out opposing the secret programs, while digital-rights advocacy groups have questioned the full legality of PRISM and 2015.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation will be participating in both the Fourth of July Web protest and the street 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, "and we hope these protests push elected officials to respond to the American people's growing discontent with dragnet domestic surveillance."

Stay tuned to CNET on the Fourth of July; we'll be covering San Francisco's street protest.