A group of more than 200 gathered near South Station in Boston Thursday afternoon and made its way down the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to protest data gathering by the National Security Agency.
Earlier, a smaller number of protesters had gathered around Boston’s Old State House as others listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence.
The release of government documents by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden has sparked protests from various groups and outrage from the Obama administration, which is seeking to prosecute him on espionage and government theft charges.
“The recent NSA revelations have just confirmed what I had already begun to suspect, which is that the searches that are being conducted are no longer in the spirit of the Fourth Amendment,” said Christopher Bucher, 22, of Burlington, at the morning protest.
The Boston protests were among many organized across the country by activists who seized the opportunity of the Independence Day holiday to highlight their concerns about whether the surveillance programs are contrary to the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable government searches and seizures.
Massachusetts Web activists helped to organize protests that included some of the Internet’s most popular websites. The nonprofit group Fight for the Future was instrumental in rallying technology companies and social-media sites in protests last year that helped defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a congressional bill that would have given the government new powers to regulate the Internet.
“If you cast a wide net and just entitle yourself to collect everything that shows up, it’s going to be a problem,” Bucher said about the NSA monitoring.
Antisurveillance protests cropped up in a number of cities. In Philadelphia, more than 100 people marched downtown to voice their displeasure, chanting, ‘‘NSA, go away!’’Derek J. Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Material from the Associated Press is included in this report.