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22 Jan, 2016 23:01

#TakeCTRL: Americans take to Twitter to campaign for more privacy

#TakeCTRL: Americans take to Twitter to campaign for more privacy

A bipartisan coalition has proposed a series of laws across the country aimed at securing people’s privacy in the digital age. Privacy advocates showed support with the hashtag #TakeCTRL, urging people to gain control of their personal data.

The personal privacy push in 16 states and the nation’s capital is designed to pressure federal lawmakers, whom the campaign has “been largely asleep at the switch,” to upgrade Americans’ digital protections against government spying.

“If Congress is unwilling or unable to act to protect Americans’ privacy, or takes actions that are insufficient, the states are more than willing to step up and fill the void,” an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) statement said.

The campaign, announced Wednesday, received messages of support from former NSA contractor-cum-whistleblower Edward Snowden, hactivist group Anonymous and many other prominent privacy proponents.

Among them was the former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Alvaro Bedoya, who accused Congress of lack of action, stressing the legislature has failed to pass any laws to protect people’s privacy for the last six years.

Many activists, including local politicians, posted pictures of themselves holding a poster with the campaign’s slogan: “You have the right to remain private,” a reference to the Miranda warning, which stipulates the right to remain silent during an interrogation.

Privacy issues have been at the center of public attention since Snowden began leaking information that exposed an intricate web of NSA spying programs, enabling the agency to intercept internet and phone conversations all over the world. The revelations led to a public outcry, with people accusing the agency of violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

A recent poll found that the vast majority of Americans ‒ 90 percent ‒ want the next president to prioritize “protecting privacy so [Americans] have more control over our personal information,” Chad Marlow, the ACLU’s advocacy and policy counsel, wrote in a blog post.

The bills, listed on ACLU website, fall into 10 categories. They all pursue a common goal of ensuring the security of private communications, and banning the government’s ability to track online activities or the whereabouts of the electronic device users.

The activists also launched an online petition to draw attention to privacy issues. So far, it has collected nearly 13,000 signatures out of the 15,000 the civil rights organization said it needed.

In the meantime, former NSA analyst William Binney ‒ who left the secretive spy agency in 2011 after 36 years of service over opposition to the George W. Bush administration’s surveillance program ‒ told Sputnik News that the best response to the problem would be cutting the NSA budget by 25 percent. The measure will force the agency to drop its costly surveillance program and concentrate on “things that are important,” like tackling terrorist threats, he said.

Binney added that the agency has been "subverting the entire US judicial system," as congressional efforts to lessen the NSA’s influence have thus far been in vain.