EFF in Court to Argue NSA Data Collection from Internet Backbone Is Unconstitutional

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EFF.orgFirst Pub­lic Court Chal­lenge to “Upstream” Inter­net Spying

Oak­land — The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion (EFF) will argue on Fri­day before a fed­er­al court that the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency (NSA) is vio­lat­ing the Fourth Amend­ment by copy­ing and search­ing data that it col­lects by tap­ping into the Inter­net back­bone. The hear­ing on a motion for par­tial sum­ma­ry judg­ment in Jew­el v. NSA will be at 9 am on Dec. 19 before Judge Jef­frey White at the fed­er­al cour­t­house in Oakland.

Jew­el was filed in 2008 on behalf of San Fran­cis­co Bay Area res­i­dent Car­olyn Jew­el and oth­er AT&T cus­tomers. EFF has amassed a moun­tain of evi­dence to sup­port the case, includ­ing doc­u­ments pro­vid­ed by for­mer AT&T tech­ni­cian Mark Klein, which show that the com­pa­ny has rout­ed copies of Inter­net traf­fic to a secret room in San Fran­cis­co con­trolled by the NSA. Oth­er whistleblowers—including Thomas Drake, Bill Bin­ney and Edward Snowden—have revealed more detail about how this tech­nique feeds data into the NSA’s mas­sive data­bas­es of com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Since June 2013, the gov­ern­ment has con­firmed that it search­es much of the con­tent it col­lects as part of its “upstream” col­lec­tion with­out a war­rant. The gov­ern­ment claims the con­tent search­es are jus­ti­fied under Sec­tion 702 of the FISA Amend­ments Act and do not vio­late the Fourth Amendment.

Under the gov­ern­men­t’s legal the­o­ry, it can copy vir­tu­al­ly all Inter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions and then search them from top to bot­tom for spe­cif­ic “identifiers”—all with­out a war­rant or indi­vid­u­al­ized suspicion—as long as it does so quick­ly using only auto­mat­ed processes.

EFF Spe­cial Coun­sel Richard Wiebe will argue before the court that the Fourth Amend­ment defin­i­tive­ly bars this type of drag­net. As EFF pre­sent­ed in its motion, enough infor­ma­tion now exists on the record for the court to rule that the gov­ern­men­t’s tech­nique rep­re­sents an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al search and seizure.

What: Motion for Par­tial Sum­ma­ry Judgment

Who: Richard Wiebe, EFF Spe­cial Counsel

Date: Fri­day, Dec. 19, 2014

Time: 9:00 am

Where: Oak­land Fed­er­al Courthouse

Court­room 5, 2nd Floor

1301 Clay St.

Oak­land, CA

Wiebe and EFF staff attor­neys will be avail­able for com­ment imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the hearing.

For more on Jew­el v. NSA: https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel


Dave Maass
Media Rela­tions Coordinator
Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foundation

Relat­ed Cases

Jew­el v. NSA