I believe whistleblowers are an essential part of democracy because without them things run amok. —Former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pete Ashdown
SALT LAKE CITY — From administrative subpoenas to the new NSA data center in Bluffdale, a small group of Utahns who rallied Sunday in Salt Lake City say Big Brother is watching.
Restore the Fourth, a nationwide movement aimed at preserving the 4th Amendment, organized the event on what it called 1984 Day. The idea was to remind policymakers that George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" is a warning, not an instruction manual.
"It should scare each of you to the bones that '1984' is really here," Lorina Potter, Restore the Fourth Utah chapter representative, told a dozen people gathered outside the Matheson Courthouse. Similar protests were held around the country.
Some held signs reading, "Feel safe yet Amerika?" and "Privacy relentless invaded by self-serving members of government."
Potter, holding a copy of Orwell's book, said the government is using technology to intrude on people lives and take away their freedom. Cameras and microphones now come in all types of electronic devices, she said.
"We know, despite the government lies, the government can access these devices at any time," she said.
Former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Pete Ashdown attended the rally at the request of Restore the Fourth.
He said he believes the National Security Agency is violating the 4th Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires a warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Administrative subpoenas used by federal and local police agencies do not need a judge's signature.
"The sheer size of the data center they have out in Bluffdale indicates that they're doing more than just specific investigations. They're doing wholesale monitoring of Americans," said Ashdown, the president and founder of Internet service provider XMission.
Ashdown praised the efforts of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and others who claim the NSA violates the 4th Amendment.
"I believe whistleblowers are an essential part of democracy because without them things run amok," he said.
Ashdown said the best way for people to protect themselves from government spying is to encrypt their electronic devices.
"The NSA cannot break it, I assure you," he said.