EFF and the Fight for Transparency on NSA Monitoring
Andrew Crocker, a fellow with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), joins us to provide an update on the ever expanding National Security Agency domestic surveillance scandal. The EFF has been one of the most vocal critics of the program and has been actively fighting it in the courts.
Currently, EFF is representing victims of the illegal surveillance program in Jewel v. NSA, a lawsuit filed in September 2008 seeking to stop the warrantless wiretapping and hold the government and government officials behind the program accountable. In July 2013, a federal judge ruled that the government could not rely on the controversial ‘state secrets’ privilege to block our challenge to the constitutionality of the program. This case is being heard in conjunction with Shubert v. Obama, which raises similar claims.
Also in July, 2013, EFF filed another lawsuit, First Unitarian v. NSA, based on the recently published FISA court order demanding Verizon turn over all customer phone records including who is talking to whom, when and for how long — to the NSA. This so-called “metadata,” especially when collected in bulk and aggregated, allows the government to track the associations of various political and religious organizations. The Director of National Intelligence has since confirmed that the collection of Verizon call records is part of a broader program. In addition to making the same arguments we made in Jewel, we argue in Unitarian First Unitarian v. NSA that this type of collection violates the First Amendment right to association.
The EFF also was involved in the recent Stop Watching Us rally that drew thousands to the Mall in Washington, D.C.
This is a scandal that is hurting US internet businesses as reported in Cyber Report earlier and as we discussed on CLBR in September with Dan Castro whose study concluded it could cost the U.S. cloud computing industry $22-35 billion over three years. Now one tech analyst is warning that the NSA will “kill the U.S. technology industry singlehandedly” as major U.S. companies are taking a beating in emerging markets because of the scandal. See Analyst: NSA Scandal “Will Kill US Tech Industry”; Major US Players Report Alarming Q3 Results
The EFF and other groups behind Stop Watching Us are urging people to sign their letter
calling on Congress to
take immediate action to
- Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
- Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
- Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.