"The Department of Justice is in the initial stages of an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by an individual with authorized access. Consistent with long-standing department policy and procedure and in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, we must decline further comment."
Among the groups signing the StopWatching,us letter are Reddit, Free Press, Mozilla, Public Knowledge, the World Wide Web Consortium and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Also signing the letter were EFF founder John Perry Barlow, author Cory Doctorow and Xeni Jardin, co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. As of Tuesday morning, more than 50,000 members of activism group Demand Progress had signed a petition demanding a congressional investigation.
"This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy," the StopWatching.us letter said. "This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously and guard against unreasonable searches and seizures that protect their right to privacy."
The letter called on Congress to launch an investigation of the surveillance programs. It also called on lawmakers to reform the section of the Patriot Act that allows for widespread surveillance and the FISA Amendments Act "to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is email@example.com.