Protest to Stop NSA Surveillance Generates 85,000 Calls to Congress

Strong showing still pales in comparison to SOPA protest in 2012

Never underestimate the newfound digital power of advocacy groups to lobby lawmakers. Tuesday's protest against government surveillance, dubbed The Day We Fight Back, generated more than 85,000 phone calls and 175,000 emails to members of Congress, thanks to more than 6,000 websites that agreed to host a banner to direct voters to act.

Twitter hashtag #StoptheNSA got plenty of play, both by activists and lawmakers such as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.)

Internet companies like Google, which have found themselves on the receiving end of requests for data from the government, also weighed in with a blog post

The Day We Fight Back was organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, Fight for the Future, and Demand Progress, some of the same groups that stunned Washington in January 2012 with a similarly-organized effort that stopped SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) dead in its tracks.

Despite Tuesday's strong showing, it still paled in comparison with the SOPA protest, proving—as many in Washington know—it's a lot easier to kill a bill than to advance legislation. Back in early 2012, more than 115,000 websites participated; calls to Congress topped 200,000 and emails numbered 3 million.

Organizers, who are pushing for the USA Freedom Act sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), say Tuesday was just the "opening salvo" in pushing for NSA surveillance reform.

"We're proud about what we accomplished today, but it was far from the last word. We must swell our ranks, develop new tactics, and remain persistent and vigilant if we are to rein in mass suspicion-less surveillance," said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress.