Students Against Surveillance

Why should I care about mass surveillance?

In societies where there is mass surveillance, it’s harder for people to think, learn, and explore. Privacy is important not only for students and academics, but also for journalists, lawyers, activists, doctors, entrepreneurs -- anyone who wants to think and act freely without worrying about who is watching them and why. Additionally, privacy helps ensure that everyone in our society is treated fairly, no matter their religion, sexuality, race, or other traits.

Mass surveillance affects you, and you have a right to stand up for your privacy and the privacy of others.

Universities should be strongholds of open communication, where the free flow of information is encouraged. The ability of students to learn and grow is severely hampered when governments monitor our communications and social media activity. Students Against Surveillance is a new project by the Student Net Alliance encouraging students and faculty to protest mass surveillance.

Raise your voice and tell your government that you won’t stand for this. Sign your name to our global letter protesting mass surveillance. We also have university-specific letters.

If your university doesn’t have a letter, help draft one! For more information, e-mail

Global Letter

We came to university thinking that we could learn with confidence, without fear that what we are studying or investigating could potentially be used against us. Given what we now know from Edward Snowden’s leaks, we no longer have that assurance. In an environment of mass surveillance, speech and academic freedom are chilled. People are afraid to speak freely. This is not a healthy environment for learning.

We, as members of the global academic community, protest. We are taking a stand against mass surveillance on our campus, and we want you to join us.

The fact of the matter is that if you're using the Internet, you can bet the NSA is watching. They keep a record of what you’ve visited and whom you’ve been talking to. The NSA has the ability to build a complete picture of your day-to-day activities.

Why is the NSA doing this? If it’s to prevent terrorism or keep the public safe, it’s not working. On December 12, 2013, the President’s Review Group found that this data collection was “not essential to preventing attacks”. [1]

The NSA’s mass surveillance programs are ineffective and present a huge potential for abuse.

Their grounds for surveillance are loosely based on association: currently, everyone who is “three hops” away from anyone deemed suspicious by the NSA falls victim to government surveillance. [2] That means if you have called a Pizza Hut, and a known drug dealer has called that Pizza Hut, then the NSA is currently keeping records of your actions -- and the actions of everyone you’ve spoken to. But it’s even broader than that: we know from the leaked Verizon order that “...every call in, to, or from the United States“ is collected by the NSA. [3] That’s every call, regardless of due process or whether or not you’re suspected of doing anything wrong.

The NSA can analyze your texts and Facebook chats, read your emails to friends and family, and monitor your bank transactions and web browsing activity (even if you’re using Incognito or Private Browsing mode). [4]

What are the effects on our university population?

  • Anyone researching controversial topics could be monitored, and that data could be used against them.
  • LGBTQ students and faculty who have not publicized their sexuality can now assume that the government has information that could out them.
  • Students seeking mental health assistance may stop seeking care for fear of that information becoming public.
  • International students may find a US education less appealing, as being a non-US citizen is an automatic criterion for being spied on.
  • You may be less inclined to collaborate on sensitive research with a partner in a different country, because you no longer do so privately.

What’s more, our Muslim and Arab peers are being targeted. In February 2012, the AP reported that the NYPD was monitoring Muslim student organizations at NYU, Columbia, and Yale. [5] We now know that the NSA tracked the pornography viewing habits of Muslim clerics to uncover material it could use to ruin the clerics’ reputations. [6] In a democracy, people should be free to practice whatever religion they choose without fear of being profiled and tracked like criminals.

Mass surveillance has created a panopticon: even if we aren’t all being individually observed, we are compelled to act as if we are. We have a right to free spaces such as universities where we can explore ideas and experiment without fear of retribution. We have a right to live in a society free of the need to self-censor. The First Amendment protects not only the right to speak and associate freely, it provides the right to do so without fear. Sadly, what we know about the NSA shows us that the US government is not valuing its own rule of law and democratic principles. The NSA has set up the infrastructure for a surveillance state. Must we wait until it falls into the hands of the next J. Edgar Hoover or Joseph McCarthy before we feel concerned?

As members of the global academic community, we sign this letter in protest. We protest the U.S. surveillance state and the chilling effects it has on our campus life. We call on the U.S. government to bring the NSA back within the bounds of the constitution.

With hope,
Student Net Alliance
January 2015

Want to write a letter on behalf of your university? See our letter-writing guide or contact us.

Current signatories

Robin Tanenbaum. Student. Claremont High School.
Aliyah McMahon. Student. Southern Boone County Highschool.
Edward Bowles. Student. University of York, UK.
Michaela Young. Student. Huntington University.
Bobby Reynolds. Student. Ohio State University--Columbus.
Tim Rickert. Alumnus. Boise State University.
John Smith. Student. Harvard University.
Ryan O'Shea. Student. Princeton University.
Evan Kozliner. Student. Ohio State University--Columbus.
Joshua Warner. Alumnus. Colorado School of Mines.
Matthew Alexander. Student. Longwood University.
Leo Zausen. Student. American University.
Gray Leonard. Student. American University.
Ben Mueller. Student. Hillsboro High School, ND.
Matthew Wong. Student. LIU Brooklyn.
Friedrich Alexander. Student. Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg.
Sam K. Alumnus. Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Jason Moynihan. Student. Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) - UK.
Nikki Fier. Student. Columbia College Chicago.
Anthony M. Gianoni. Student. Champlain College.
Felipe J Ruiz. Alumnus. LIU Post.
Paul Humphrey. Student. Humphreys College.
Scott Conrad. Student. Delaware County Community College.
Daniel Gonyea. Alumnus. Northeastern University.
Maartin Sysa. Student. Karel De Grote Hogeschool.
Asad Mehdi.Student. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Vincent M. Alvarez. Student. Pratt County Community College.
Schuyler Meyer. Student. Clarkson University.
ADAM. Student. Wabash College.
Nicolis Boudreau. Student. Manchester Community College.
Michael Buckenmeyer. Student. University of Detroit Mercy.
AndeY. Student. Bjerke BGS.
Taha Mehdi. Student. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Aldo Ortiz. Student. UNICAES, El Salvador.
Bobby Dowell. Student. School of Hard Knocks.
Taif Lasker. Student. Primavera online high school.
laetitia. Student. Victor et Helene Basch.
Hunter Christenson. Student. Creighton University.
Justin Chiu. Student. University of Victoria.
Richard Hanson. Student. University of Chicago.
Jarek Hunger. Student. Portland State University.
David B Ross. Student. Home-schooled.
Bruce Hlodnicki. Alumnus. Manchester University.
Christopher Vasquez. Student. Rutgers.
Mary Bash. Student. Home-schooled.
Courtney Culkin. Student. LIU Post.
Michael Culkin. Student. SUNY Stony Brook.
Allister Layne. Alumnus. Georgia State University.
Richard A Lang. Faculty. University of Chicago.
Dustin Tasker. Student. Binghamton University.
Carl W. Kammeyer. Alumnus. Northwestern University.
Patricia Nguy. Student. Culinary Institute of America.
Tabitha Harris. Alumnus. Mid-Continent University.
Michael Grem. Alumnus. University of Washington.
Andrea Dee. Alumnus. University of Central Florida.
Henry Hsiao. Student. New York University.
Gio. Student. UCL Academy.
Terri Burns. Student. New York University.
Naveen Minai. Student. University of California, Los Angeles.
Jhishan Khan. Student. New York University.
Alex Villegas. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Jonathan Monk. Student. Temple University.
Sharix Alicea. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Shane Roxberry. Student. Temple University.
Robert Goss. Alumnus. Temple University.
Dana Rognlie. Student. University of Oregon.
Summer Freed. Student. University of Minnesota--Twin Cities.
Timothy Sweeney. Student. Stanford University.
Max Winter. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Miranda Stonebarger. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Vanessa Sochat. Student. Stanford University.
Jill M. Holder. Alumnus. Eastern Michigan University.
Mihaela Vorvoreanu. Faculty. Purdue University.
Jill Randolph. Student. University of Oregon.
Raquel A. Barroso. Student. Queen's College.
Emily Harris. Student. Purdue University.
Nikolaus Hildebrand. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Rostislav Grynko. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Katherine M. Prioli. Student. Temple University.
Miles Kilcourse. Student. New York University.
Nicole. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
John Gallias. Alumnus. Eastern Michigan University.
Sean Murray. Alumnus. Temple University.
Edward Budnick. Student. Temple University.
Alberto Espino. Student. Stanford University.
Kyle B. Bowen. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Marcy Ramirez. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Preethi Krishnan. Student. Purdue University.
Anlin Wang. Student. Temple University.
David Chuchuca. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Devon Kristine Zuegel. Student. Stanford University.
Ivana Cuevas. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Susy Sanchez. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Phoebe O'Connor. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Ryan Shubert. Alumnus. Temple University.
Mark Zgaljic. Student. SUNY New Paltz.
David Leventhal. Faculty. Queen's College.
Jersson Torres. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
David Odgers. Student. Stanford University.
Do Lee. Faculty. Queen's College.
Elizabeth S. DelSignore. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Colin Wakeford. Student. SUNY New Paltz.
Andy Bromberg. Student. Stanford University.
Deergha Gakkhar. Student. New York University.
Carlos X. Bonilla. Student. Temple University.
Clara Kirk. Student. Stanford University.
Paul Gregg. Student. Stanford University.
Vincent Ng. Student. Purdue University.
Oscar Winberg. Alumnus. New York University.
John Maine. Alumnus. Binghamton University--SUNY.
Ajay Bhatt. Student. Temple University.
Sekou George. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Meera Desai. Student. Queen's College.
Don O'Malley. Student. Purdue University.
Stephanie Chu. Student. University of Texas--Austin.
Edgar Solorio. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Alexandra Marin. Student. Purdue University.
Clara Townsend. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Elizabeth Baumel. Student. George Washington University.
Parth Patel. Student. Temple University.
Kathleen Mueller. Alumnus. Purdue University.
Brindan Thiyagarajah. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Neill Carroll. Alumnus. Temple University.
Catherine R. Salazar. Alumnus. Purdue University.
Jillian Braithwaite. Student. SUNY New Paltz.
James Grace. Student. Stanford University.
Nicholas Barbier. Student. Stanford University.
Azura. Student. King's College London.
Shenal Jules. Student. Temple University.
Jeremiah Favara. Student. University of Oregon.
Kevin Hollinshead. Alumnus. University of Oregon.
Destiny Szwiec. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Sayuri Ito. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Matt Melkesian. Student. San Diego State University.
Tomer Altman. Student. Stanford University.

Andrew Giunta. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Katherine Eiler. Student. New York University.
Zachary Esrig. Student. Stanford University.
Caitlin King. Student. Queen's College.
Sydney Talbott. Student. University of Oregon.
Bryson Mingione. Student. University of Virginia.
Mohamad Kheir. Student. Temple University.
Henry McGill. Student. Temple University.
John Backus. Student. Stanford University.
Mariah Stackhouse. Student. Stanford University.
Ty Miller. Student. Purdue University.
Braden Bjella. Student. New York University.
Jama. Student. Stanford University.
Niko Varella. Student. Stanford University.
Robert Davis. Alumnus. Nova Southeastern University.
Tyler Anderson. Student. Purdue University.
Jon LaRochelle. Student. University of Oregon.
Fiona Tarzy. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Ryan Cartwright. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Ivey B. Student. University of Texas--Dallas.
Shannon McCabe. Student. Temple University.
Sarah Voigt. Student. University of Oregon.
Lark Trumbly. Student. Stanford University.
Andrew Westling. Student. University of Oregon.
Kyle Ryan Laskowski. Student. Temple University.
Nils Bringsjord. Student. Central High School.
Shannon Flowers. Student. University of Oregon.
Joshua Jones. Student. Stanford University.
Johnathan H. Christoforatos. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Maude David. Student. Stanford University.
Lachoy Harris. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Shicheng Guo. Alumnus. Purdue University.
Nawaf Alnaji. Student. Stanford University.
Alan Reynolds. Student. University of Oregon.
Jared Frazer. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Sergio Klor de Alva. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Phillip Emerson. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Brandon Aubrey. Student. Temple University.
Arthur Iula. Student. Stanford University.
Adir Zaken. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
John Maine. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
G.M. Delgadillo. Alumnus. Stanford University.
Michael P. Geoghan. Student. Temple University.
Pete Richards. Student. University of Oregon.
Brandan Mapes. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Jennifer Barton. Alumnus. Purdue University.
Kathryn Coates-Chaney. Student. University of Oregon.
April Glaser. Alumnus. Temple University.
Ramon Nash. Student. University of Oregon.
Colin Mahns. Student. New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Spencer Malloy. Alumnus. Pennsylvania State University--University Park.
Erica Maldonado. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Emily. Alumnus. Purdue University.
Kathleen Horan. Student. Temple University.
Shelby Rice. Student. Western Kentucky University.
Stephen Salgaller. Alumnus. Carnegie Mellon University.
Jenny Huang. Student. The University of Melbourne.
Sasha Blakeley. Student. McGill University.
Katherine Esty Thomas. Alumnus. University of Rochester.
Marina. Alumnus. Rocroy.
Debra Geoghan. Faculty. Bucks County Community College.
Karen Rietz. Student. Freie Universität Berlin.
Brian Lechthaler. Student.
Jacob Henner. Student. University of Pennsylvania.
Dave Wallace. Student. University of California, Santa Cruz.
Casey Cruz. Student. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Phillip Emerson. Student. Binghamton University.
Jonathan Landen. Student. "Canyon High School.
Rachel Voigt. Student. University of Oregon.
Patrick Gilmartin. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Justin Neal. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Aaron Dinwiddie. Student. University of California (UC), Berkeley.
Michael Dwyer. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Jessica Hofstede. Student. Concordia University.
Justin Michael Ramirez. Student. CUNY, Baruch College.
Galen E. Merigliano. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Jacob Byers. Alumnus. ITT Tech.
Christina Choi. Student. Hornsby Girls' High School.
Curtis Parfitt-Ford. Student. Elthorne Park High School.
Sabrina Bode. Student. SUNY New Paltz.
Patricia Nguy. Student. Culinary Institute of America.
Serena Grasso. Student. King's College.
Michelle Jackson. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Lejf Rossi. Student. West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District.
Brittany Robertson. Student. University of Auckland.
Colin Koopman. Faculty. University of Oregon.
Richard Cardenas. Alumnus. Queen's College.
Carl Kammeyer. Alumnus. Carthage College.
Brian P. Lee. Alumnus. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Rory Isbell. Student.University of Oregon.
Richard Santos. Student. Yavapai College.
Dirk S. Alumnus. University of Colorado, Boulder.
Bradley Slabe. Student. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Jadayah Spencer. Student. New York University.
Stephanie Izquieta. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Megan Holston. Faculty. San Jose State University.
Dylan Gamble. Student. University of Oregon.
Jennifer Moakler. Student. CUNY, Queens College.
Vroseleena Noel. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Elisa Nayeli Altamirano. Student. Antelope Valley College.
Molly Atkinson. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Sara Connor. Student. University of California, Davis.
Jisoo Rho. Student. Queen's College.
Robert Froelich. Student. San Bernardino Valley College.
Laurence Hong. Student. New York University.
Fernando Rivera. Student. New York University.
Zhou YiLin. Student. New York University.
Matthew Ahlborn. Student. Central Washington University.
Kate Colcord. Student. New York University.
John A. Cargo. Alumnus. Lake Superior State University.
Samantha Williams. Student. New York University.
Kasey Brenner. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Franz Bruggemeier. Student. University of Oregon.
Elizabeth G. Lozada. Student. New York University.
Abhi Agarwal. Student. New York University.
Olivia Stephenson. Student. Southwestern University.
Ioannis Katsifas. Student. New York University.
Liv Venegas. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Caroline Crisp. Student. University of Oregon.
Kristina Mayman. Student. New York University.
Precious Brittany Maclang. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Cara E. Bates. Student. University of Oregon.
Arsen Zargarov. Student. Binghamton University, SUNY.
Mihir Pathare. Student. New York University.
Aidan Diamond. Student. Mount Holyoke College.
Mats Thyssen. Student. New York University.
Jongho Lee. Student. New York University.
Jelena Karanovic. Faculty. New York University.
Luke Schutz. Alumnus. Contemporary Music Center.
Hyejo Ahn. Student. New York University.
Anais Gomez. Student. New York University.


[1] “Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of section 215 telephony meta-data was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.”





[6] “Radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent. Some of the vulnerabilities, if exposed, would likely call into question a radicalizer’s devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority. Examples of some of these vulnerabilities include: Viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

Students Against Surveillance is a campaign by Tommy Collison and Hannah Weverka in association with the Student Net Alliance. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The signatories sign on their own behalf; their views do not necessarily reflect the views of their affiliated institutions. Site design by Tommy Collison.