Restore The Fourth

Opposing unconstitutional mass government surveillance

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Restore the Fourth, 18 Allies Ask Congress To Investigate FBI Monitoring

The essence of the Fourth Amendment is that the government should leave you and your stuff alone, unless they can satisfy a judge that they have probable cause of your involvement in an actual crime.

Today, we’re calling for Congress to investigate whether the FBI is keeping that promise, relating to domestic advocacy groups, including Restore The Fourth itself.

Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee * Press Release

Pat Eddington, of the Cato Institute, has spent much of 2019 trying to figure out the contours of FBI domestic surveillance. To that end, he sent off Freedom of Information Act requests to DOJ, asking for over 200 organizations whether the FBI had records relating to them. After a lengthy process of appeals, he received a response that said that for most of the organizations concerned, FBI had no responsive records, either in its domestic databases or its foreign intelligence and national security databases. For us, and for just a few other organizations, however, FBI refused to confirm or deny whether they had responsive records in their foreign intelligence and national security databases. It seems likely, based on this “Glomar” response, that there has been some kind of improper data-gathering or surveillance of us and other organizations, in violation of the FBI’s own rules as well as the Constitution.

Of course, it’s not just this sequence of FOIA requests that provides evidence of substantial FBI surveillance of people peacefully petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. From Muslim rights groups to Occupy, from Standing Rock to so-called “Black Identity Extremists”, the FBI has been taking a steadily deeper interest since 9/11 in policing domestic dissent, as it shifted from a “law enforcement” focus to a “counter-terrorism” focus.

It’s time for our Senators and Members of Congress, especially those on the Judiciary Committee, to stand up and demand that they respect Americans’ rights. Call your Senator and Congressmember now on (202) 224-3121 to support our call!

How the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates stack up on the surveillance state

Today, Restore The Fourth launches its voter guide for the 2020 Democratic primaries.

Mass state surveillance is less about who’s in the Oval Office and more about senior intelligence community officials and tech company executives. Their institutional imperatives plow ahead with only limited influence from the White House either way. It’s not clear that even a President who assumed office pledging to undermine the surveillance state would still be able to do so.

However, there are still meaningful differences between the different candidates for President. We don’t make endorsements or dis-endorsements, but it’s part of our mission to educate the public about those differences, and existing sources don’t draw together adequately the necessary information for privacy-oriented voters.

This cycle, we’re analyzing candidates’ track records and statements with respect to seven factors: (a) NSA surveillance; (b) FBI surveillance of domestic dissent; (c) DHS border surveillance; (d) police accountability; (e) commercial privacy and online publisher liability; (f) encryption; and (g) attitude to national security whistleblowers.

This necessarily casts a broader net than our congressional surveillance scorecard. Votes are the clearest indication of where a candidate stands, but some candidates have never held elected office. Where appropriate, we are also including and contextualizing candidate statements and non-legislative actions. This guide focuses on the Democratic candidates; ahead of the other parties’ debates, we will aim to do the same.

A / A- : Tulsi Gabbard : Bernie Sanders : Elizabeth Warren

B+ / B / B- : Beto O’Rourke : Cory Booker : Kamala Harris

C+ / C / C- : Julian Castro : Pete Buttigieg : Andrew Yang

D / D- : Amy Klobuchar : Joe Biden

Unclassified: Tom Steyer