2019 is a hugely important year for privacy and free expression. This year, Congress will debate the renewal of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, the law that the NSA claims allows its collection of billions of phone call records and other private information. Congress will also consider the CASE Act, a dangerous copyright bill that would make it easier for copyright trolls to demand money from ordinary Internet users. Finally, some lawmakers are bent on dismantling Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online.
Every August, congressmembers return to their districts to meet their constituents. In-person meetings and town halls can make a huge difference, bigger than phone calls or tweets. Gather a few friends and colleagues and request a meeting with your congressmember or a member of their staff. If there is an Electronic Frontier Alliance group in your city, consider partnering with them to bring your concerns to lawmakers together.
You don’t have to be an expert on the issues to meet with your members of Congress. They’re looking for the lived experience of their constituents. That said, we’ve created some printouts with easy talking points that you can bring with you. We’ve also provided some tips on how to organize a meeting, what to bring, and what to say.
Even if you already know where your members of Congress stand on these issues, it’s still important to talk to them. Constituent feedback doesn’t just influence votes; it also influences what topics lawmakers decide to prioritize or bury.
The decisions that Congress is going to make over the next five months will impact our digital rights for decades to come. Please commit to telling your members of Congress why privacy, free speech, and creativity matter to you.