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Web petition urging Congress to act on NSA hits half-million mark

As one disclosure follows the next, the debate over the limits of government surveillance leads to more pressure on Congress.

U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, walks to a closed door U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee meeting on June 13 in Washington, D.C.
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More than half a million people have signed an online petition demanding Congress more fully probe the recent revelations about the National Security Agency.

The petition, titled "Stop Watching Us," started a couple of weeks ago. It urges Congress to stop the government from what it describes as blanket data collection. "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."

It's the latest public fallout following press reports based on information supplied by a former NSA contractor who leaked details on the existence of top-secret surveillance program. The disclosures, first reported in The Guardian and The Washington Post, tell a tale of widespread information-gathering of Internet and phone information. But given the NSA's shadowy nature, the public has yet to sort out fact from fiction in what is, admittedly, an explosive but complicated story.

"The numbers are pretty great as far as I'm concerned," Sina Khanifar, a Web developer who organized the campaign wrote in an e-mail to CNET. "It took me a month to get to 114,000 signatures for the unlocking petition I ran previously, whereas we hit 500K in two weeks with this one. So far so good!"