Will the 'Restore the Fourth' Rallies Rock the Media (and You)?

As U.S. Citizens Come Together to Protest on July 4th, a Look at a Nascent Movement

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On July 4, in more than 100 cities across the country, organizers are asking U.S. citizens to join Restore the Fourth rallies protesting the erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights. I care about this because, well, I'm a U.S. citizen -- but also because I'm a media columnist, and these protests have the potential to become a media phenomenon. With the financial markets and many businesses closed, holidays tend to be slow news days, and once local and national newscasters work their way through the 4th of July parade montages (and inevitable sad stories of fireworks-related accidents), maybe -- just maybe -- they'll pay some attention to Restore the Fourth.

It's worth noting here that the Restore the Fourth movement is fundamentally about media: our right to use various forms of it -- from email to social media and beyond -- without our government having the essentially unlimited, largely unchecked ability to spy on our use of that media.

Here's a basic summary of what Restore the Fourth is and what its organizers are trying to achieve:

Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement that seeks to organize and assemble nationwide protests on July 4th, 2013. Protesters in over 100 cities across America will gather to demand that the government of the United States of America adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. RestoretheFourth.net provides a detailed list of protest locations.

More details are available in the organization's FAQ.

By the way, if you haven't looked at the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution since high school history class (I'm pretty sure I hadn't), here it is in full:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

In 2013, your personhood, so to speak, exists, to a large extent, online, and your "houses, papers, and effects" are also, of course, deeply weaved into the "cloud" of the internet. Given what we've all recently learned about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, it's clear that our collective "houses, papers, and effects" are constantly and systematically being searched and seized.

Why? To protect us from terrorists, we're told.

On that note, I'll leave you with this post by Brian Merchant at the Vice "Motherboard" blog: "Sorry, NSA, Terrorists Don't Use Verizon. Or Skype. Or Gmail."

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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