Demonstarators carry signs at "Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance" march near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Thousands are marching on the National Mall in Washington, DC to protest covert NSA surveillance operations on the anniversary of the Patriot Act. The organizers are planning to present Congress with a petition which has acquired over 570,000 signatures.

Stop Watching Us is a collective of 100 public advocacy groups, among them the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom Works, as well as individuals like Chinese artist/activist Ai Weiwei and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who worked with Edward Snowden to expose many of the NSA’s surveillance procedures. The began at 11:30 am local time on October 26 – the 12th anniversary of the US Patriot Act.

 

Demonstrators wearing cardboard surveillance camera hats carry a sign depicting U.S. President Barack Obama at the "Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance" march in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Demonstrators wearing cardboard surveillance camera hats carry a sign depicting U.S. President Barack Obama at the “Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance” march in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

“First, we are asking for a congressional investigation so we can shed light on exactly what the National Security Agency is doing. Secondly, we ask for reform of federal surveillance law, specifically Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the state secrets privilege,” Rainey Reitman, EFF activism director and lead organizer for Saturday’s rally told tech news outlet CNET on Friday.

20:29 GMT: Megaupload founder and online activist Kim Dotcom is supporting the Stop Watching Us movement for privacy and internet freedom, and reminds US citizens how back in 2007 US President Barack Obama promised to protect them from illegal and unconstitutional wiretapping.

 

20:12 GMT:  Writer and a privacy advocate from San Francisco Rainey Reitman and attorney Kurt Opsahl stand next to hundreds of thousands of petitions signed to protect privacy rights.

19:45 GMT: Twelve large boxes of the 575,000 petition signatures have been presented to the crowd at the foot of the US Capitol. The number of signatories now stands at over 580,000.

 

19:40 GMT: NGO Code Pink: Women for Peace have a colorful delegation at the march.


19:16 GMT:
“It is very important that people speak out, take action, march, rally demonstrate against these practices of the government,” anti-war activist Richard Becker told RT. “What can really bring a change is the actions of the people,” he said, stressing that “none of the progressive changes” in the history of the US have ever been “originated inside the Congress or in the White House”.