Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Stop broad and unnecessary surveillance programs, as they harm journalism and our democracy
Journalists in the United States are hampered by the large scale surveillance in the country. By barring the way for journalists to do their jobs, mass surveillance is hurting America’s democracy. Journalists help ensure that whatever the government is doing is done for the public good, and these surveillance practices prevent journalists from getting the word out about government misdeeds. Help stop the surveillance so our journalists are able to do their work.
A report on surveillance prepared by Human Rights Watch is based on interviews conducted with journalists, lawyers, and United States government officials. The report discusses what methods journalists have used to get the news and otherwise do their jobs, without information being leaked to the government. The report has determined that government surveillance impairs press freedom, the public’s right to information, and the right to counsel. All of these rights are required to make a democracy healthy.
Due to government restrictions and surveillance practices, journalists in particular are affected by new surveillance projects like the Insider Threat Program. This program requires intelligence officials to report on another official if he or she is behaving in a way that could leak information. These surveillance laws intimidate sources, making it difficult for journalists to do their job. Sources are scared of losing their security clearance, their job, or of otherwise being investigated for a criminal offense. To get around these restrictions, journalists are using encryption, air-gapped computers, disposal phones, or not communicating on electronic communication altogether.
These restrictions undermine the people’s rights and harm our democracy. Tell the President of the United States to stop practicing mass surveillance so our journalists are able to do their job of informing the public.
Dear President Barack Obama,
Recently, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting the effects surveillance laws have on our journalists. These laws undermine both journalists jobs, and our democracy. A journalist’s source might be intimidated by the laws and the implications of exposing something about their government. This forces journalists to find workarounds to get the news, including learning encryption. The only reason journalists are doing this is because of the tight restrictions placed on our people.
I demand that the practice of broad and unnecessary surveillance stop in the United States. It is doing nothing good for our country, the people do not want it, and it is not helping our democracy. These laws impair several rights, all of which you as the leader of the United States are supposed to uphold.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dnalor 01 via Wikimedia Commons