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A crowd of about 300 people gathered at San Francisco's Civic Center on Thursday and then marched throughout the city to join in on the nationwide Independence Day protest of the National Security Agency's surveillance program.
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
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 goal of the surveillance programs is to track down foreign terrorists and terrorist threats.
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
San Francisco hosted just one of nearly 100 anti-NSA protests around the U.S. on Thursday. A group called Restore the Fourth coordinated the events that took place in major cities like San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and New York. Additionally, several Web sites -- including some heavy-hitters like Mozilla, Reddit,, and 4chan -- have staged online protests by prominently displaying a Fourth Amendment banner on their sites.
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
In San Francisco, protesters started at the city's Civic Center, then marched to the Federal Building. The demonstration culminated at the city's AT&T headquarters.
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
During the protest, one marcher said he was participating in the demonstration because he believes the government shouldn't collect data on its citizens.

"I'm here because I feel that my civil liberties have been invaded upon enough," Nick Fitzgerald said. "I want the government to stop treating its citizens like criminals and invading my right to privacy."
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
In anticipation of the Independence Day protests, the NSA issued a statement saying, "The Fourth of July reminds us as Americans of the freedoms and rights all citizens of our country are guaranteed by our Constitution. Among those is freedom of speech, often exercised in protests of various kinds. NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people."
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr
The Electronic Frontier Foundation took part in the San Francisco protest. Parker Higgins, an activist for the organization, gave a speech about the NSA and the need for Americans to know the extent of its surveillance programs.

"The Fourth Amendment is there to protect us," Higgins said, "but there comes a time when we have to step in and protect it."
Photo by: Dara Kerr/CNET | Caption by: Dara Kerr


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