consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Litigation over NSA spying on you and me. Enter the A-Team. Make that the ACLU team. Amateur Hour is over.

Photo credit, Wikipedia.
The big shoe dropped next to the little one.

ACLU v. Obama now joins Klayman v. Obama.

ABC Network carries online an AP report;

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Obama administration Tuesday, asking the government to halt a phone-tracking program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans and that it says is unconstitutional.

[...] "The practice is akin to snatching every American's address book — with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where," the lawsuit says. "It gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations."

The lawsuit — which names as defendants the heads of national intelligence as well as the agencies they lead, including the National Security Agency, the FBI, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice — also asks the court to purge phone records collected under the program, claiming the government action violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution.

The Department of Justice did not immediately return a call seeking comment. President Barack Obama has defended the program and says privacy must be balanced with security.

Last week, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25 issued an order granting the NSA permission to collect telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. The order was good until July 19, the newspaper said.

The order requires Verizon, one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies, on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

The ACLU claims standing as a former customer of Verizon, adding that the government likely has much of its metadata stored in its databases.

The suit also alleges the government's program exceeds the congressional authority provided by the Patriot Act [''']

Additional news reporting of ACLU activities; RawStory carrying Reuters, here; with N.Y. Times reporting, here:

[...] The Justice Department declined to comment on the suit.

In other lawsuits against national security policies, the government has often persuaded courts to dismiss them without ruling on the merits by arguing that litigation would reveal state secrets or that the plaintiffs could not prove they were personally affected and so lacked standing in court.

This case may be different. The government has now declassified the existence of the program. And the A.C.L.U. is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services — the recipient of a leaked secret court order for all its domestic calling records — which it says gives it standing.

The call logging program keeps a record of “metadata” from domestic phone calls, including which numbers were dialed and received, from which location, and the time and duration.

The effort began as part of the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 programs of surveillance without court approval, which has continued since 2006 with the blessing of a national security court. The court has secretly ruled that bulk surveillance is authorized by a section of the Patriot Act that allows the F.B.I. to obtain “business records” relevant to a counterterrorism investigation.

Then also, MSNBC:

Referring to the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices as a “dragnet program,” the ACLU’s new lawsuit alleges that it is a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.

“This dragnet program is surely one of the largest surveillance efforts ever launched by a democratic government against its own citizens,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer in a statement. “It is the equivalent of requiring every American to file a daily report with the government of every location they visited, every person they talked to on the phone, the time of each call, and the length of every conversation. The program goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act and represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy.”

Google, one of the companies allegedly feeding information into the top secret PRISM surveillance program, is looking to clear its name. Tuesday afternoon, the tech giant requested permission from the FBI and Justice Department to reveal information about government information requests made of the company.

“Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue,” Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond wrote in an open letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI director Robert Mueller. “However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.”

Last week, Google and other tech companies denied that they had granted the FBI and NSA “direct access” to their users’ personal data, after former defense contractor Edward Snowden leaked some of the details of PRISM to the Guardian and Washington Post.

Each of the above links has multiple main story links, so go to original items for more.

Last item in this handful sampling; C_Net here, with headline and story start:

click the screencapture to enlarge and read

There is a petition. Track it dowsn on your own if you care to sign.

More: Strib here, MSNBC in more detail here, links here, Klayman and ACLU actions both reported here, and The Verge, here, this screencapture:

More: The Verge again, here; KOS linking to the ACLU press release and the complaint; Dan Murphey with the Monitor, here; and last, Ars Technica with its own added facts and thoughts.

Much more is online, but those are diverse quality links.

8:13 AM 6/12/2013
Latest from Guardian, here. Consider whether private sector businesses owe or should owe any duty to your government to snoop on you, for the government. Collapse it. Why would any sane person want the government spying on him/her? What good can come of it? What bad? Bottom line: Is your life's details something that a massive government data collection capacity should be mucking after, or should you be left largely if not totally alone by the snoops?

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