Less than a week after Americans learned the National Security Agency was monitoring the phone calls, emails and social networks of its citizens, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col., is calling on his fellow lawmakers to do a better job protecting personal privacy – and he wants the Internet's help to do it.
Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is sponsoring a petition on Causes.com, a grass roots campaign website, to ask for support in calling on Congress to revise the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act, which was signed into law in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was intended to strengthen homeland security and thwart future terrorist attacks. But it also weakened restrictions on law enforcement agencies that gather intelligence domestically, making online monitoring of American citizens overseas fair game.
"I know how damaging leaks of classified information can be to our national security," Udall wrote. "I wish the information about our government's telephone records surveillance program had come directly from the administration itself. But now the American people are more empowered to judge the secret interpretations of the Patriot Act — and to see how those interpretations have been used to expand collection of Americans' telephone records."
Other petitions have surfaced on Causes.com in reaction to NSA surveillance, including "Tell President Obama: Justify your indiscriminate spying on Americans," "We Demand The Government STOP Mining Personal Data On Private Citizens" and "Don't Spy on Me, Bro!"
Udall's petition was posted on June 10, and more than 1,100 people have since signed it. The senator's office could not be reached for comment.