For Immediate Release Friday, June 27, 2014
Diverse coalition reveals lawmakers who aced, failed, and were missing in the debate over mass spying
A coalition of 21 organizations from across the political spectrum today launched StandAgainstSpying.org , an interactive website that grades members of Congress on what they have done — or, often, not done — to rein in the NSA.
Led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Sunlight Foundation, and Greenpeace, the coalition aims to inspire constituents to hold their elected officials accountable on mass surveillance reform, as well as give lawmakers the opportunity to improve their positions. Using a report card-style format, the grading criteria included whether the legislator was a sponsor of the USA FREEDOM Act or, in the case of the House of Representatives, voted for the “Amash Amendment” to defund NSA mass surveillance. Legislators had multiple avenues for receiving high marks.
Of the 100 senators and 433 representatives included, 241 members (45 percent) received “A” grades. However, 188 members (35 percent) flunked the scorecard, while another 77 members (14 percent) received question marks for taking no measurable action.
Website visitors can enter their zip codes to look up their congressional members’ scores. They then are encouraged to tweet directly at their members of Congress, thanking them for defending privacy or asking them to do more in the fight against mass spying. Additionally, all visitors can sign an open letter to President Barack Obama urging him to end the mass surveillance programs immediately, without waiting for Congress to act.
“We must hold members of Congress accountable by making clear to the public who in Congress is standing up for surveillance reform, who is acting as a roadblock, and who is failing to take a stand,” EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman said. “More Americans than ever now think the NSA has gone too far. The American people — and frankly people all over the world — can’t wait any longer for Congress to rein in the NSA.”
EFF built StandAgainstSpying.org after analyzing the key NSA reform bills in Congress and weighting the prominent proposals on the degree to which they would end mass data collection. Sunlight Foundation technologists populated the site with data from its repository of Congressional actions.
“Just as the Internet has become an avenue for surveillance, it is also a mechanism for the public to hold the government accountable for its unchecked secrecy,” said John Wonderlich, policy director at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. “People care about secrecy and state power and are willing to stand up and demand reform.”
More than 18 groups and companies with diverse interests joined Greenpeace, EFF, Tenth Amendment Center (TAC), and Sunlight Foundation as partners in launching StandAgainstSpying.org , including Association of Alternative Newsmedia, Bill of Rights Defense Commmittee, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, Free Press Action Fund, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Libertarian Party, Liberty Coalition, Open Media, PEN America, reddit, Restore the Fourth, Taskforce.is, TechFreedom and ThoughtWorks.
The launch of the scorecard also coincided with a joint campaign by Greenpeace, EFF, and TAC to fly an airship over the NSA data center in Bluffdale, Utah, which carried a sign that read “NSA Illegal Spying Below” with a link to StandAgainstSpying.org .