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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Courts United States

EFF Sues NSA, Justice Department, FBI 333

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
New submitter Jawnn writes "The Washington Post reports that the EFF has filed suit against the NSA in Federal Court in San Francisco, on behalf of multiple groups (court filing). Those groups include, 'Rights activists, church leaders and drug and gun rights advocates.' EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn said, 'The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA's mass, untargeted collection of Americans' phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties. Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years.' Apparently, not everyone out there is believing the 'If you have nothing to hide' excuses being offered up from various government quarters."
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EFF Sues NSA, Justice Department, FBI

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  • by Budgreen (561093) <josh.havilandNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:47PM (#44301377) Homepage
    we need even more people doing this. .
    • my take on this? it's more of a fourth amendment issue than a first amendment issue. i would push both probably, but I understand why one needs to choose a primary target. i guess an open question is, how would you rank order the amendments in terms of importance?
      • by Talderas (1212466) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:01PM (#44301565)

        They are all of equal importance.

        However to answer your question, you rank their importance by which one appears to be most violated and easy to attack the culprit with.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Though I'm not an American, I think there's a strong case for the not-oft-discussed 9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

          i.e., the constitution guarantees you certain rights, but just because it isn't listed in there doesn't mean it isn't your right – and I'd imagine most people, given the option, would choose to retain the right to privacy.

          Of course it's not at all clear how one is suppo
      • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:01PM (#44301569)

        my take on this? it's more of a fourth amendment issue than a first amendment issue. i would push both probably, but I understand why one needs to choose a primary target. i guess an open question is, how would you rank order the amendments in terms of importance?

        I'm going for at least a 15-way tie.

      • by stanlyb (1839382)
        But First is bigger than Fourth....it is counterintuitive, but nevertheless true.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:12PM (#44301699) Homepage

        The fourth amendment's applicability is only certain in the minds of privacy advocates. Legally, the fourth amendment is generally held to mean that the government can't disrupt your life with its searches or target someone specifically without a good enough reason to convince a judge. The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect - it infringes privacy, but the impact on any particular person's life isn't unreasonable.

        On the other hand, the first amendment is a much easier fight. The leaked information shows fairly well that the snooping (or at least its analysis) was targeted before any crime was committed. That means that the NSA's prejudiced against particular groups, and that's within spitting distance of a first-amendment violation.

        After showing that some instances violate the first amendment, it's also an easier fight to argue that any wide-spread persistent snooping program is too easily also a violation. It's a similar tactic to the argument that no separate racially-segregated schools can be equal. Then once the first amendment has been invoked to protect people's metadata as free speech, then the fourth can be brought in to argue that any snooping of metadata must be approved by a warrant beforehand.

        That also puts privacy in a much stronger place in the long run. By going after the first amendment protection, it can be argued that any aspect of a person's social life is a protected expression (within the limits usually invoked, like prohibiting murder as a form of protest), so that prohibits the government from seeking something the public knows (like a vehicle's whereabouts).

        If successful, it could reconcile the public's love of sharing information with the hatred of the government learning that information.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:27PM (#44301889)

          Legally, the fourth amendment is generally held to mean that the government can't disrupt your life with its searches or target someone specifically without a good enough reason to convince a judge. The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect - it infringes privacy, but the impact on any particular person's life isn't unreasonable.

          The reason they take that stance is simply so they can violate people's rights with impunity as long as the violations are not deemed to be 'unreasonable.' Not new, but still pathetic nonetheless. The fourth amendment says no such thing, and no intelligent person would say that collecting data on nearly all Americans in an effort to stop the terrorist bogeyman is even close to reasonable; they would say it's a disgusting practice created by a freedom-hating government. The impact is unreasonable.

        • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOSpam.mac.com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:39PM (#44302043) Journal

          The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect

          Nope. It's billions of counts of illegal wiretapping against people who are not suspects. That's why it's a crime.

          -jcr

          • by Proteus (1926) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:15PM (#44303233) Homepage Journal

            It's billions of counts of illegal wiretapping

            I'd very much like that to be the law, but it isn't. What the NSA did is probably illegal, certainly ought to be, but it isn't wiretapping. Wiretapping, as legally defined, requires that someone listen to a conversation. That's well-established enough that the NSA went out of their way to "only" capture metadata about the conversation.

            What the EFF (and others) are arguing -- I think correctly -- is that even though it's not wiretapping, it's still a violation of our rights. Given the recent history of court rulings on 4th Amendment grounds, they probably feel they have a better shot at making this 1st Amendment argument than hoping for the court to agree that capturing phone call and internet message "envelopes" constitutes a search.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:07PM (#44302371) Journal

          The fourth amendment's applicability is only certain in the minds of privacy advocates. Legally, the fourth amendment is generally held to mean that the government can't disrupt your life with its searches

          That "legal" interpretation is the one that exists only in the minds of certain government lawyers. The 4th amendment is unequivocal. No warrants shall issue without specifically describing the places to be searched or the things to be seized. Generalized surveillance can never comply with this restriction.

          The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect - it infringes privacy, but the impact on any particular person's life isn't unreasonable.

          That's also blatantly unconstitutional. If you don't have probable cause to believe the person you want is in my house, you don't get to search my house.

          The "legal" arguments you are putting forth here are incompatible with the actual text of the Constitution. This needs to stop.

        • by David_Hart (1184661) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:07PM (#44302377)

          "The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect - it infringes privacy, but the impact on any particular person's life isn't unreasonable."

          No, it's more like tracking your car with a GPS everywhere you go.

          Going door-to-door doesn't generate any data that is stored for future use and says nothing about who you talk to or associate with.

          Going door-to-door would be more like being phoned and recording whether you picked up or not (door answered?) and the phone number dialed (your address).

        • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:14PM (#44302435)

          The fourth amendment's applicability is only certain in the minds of privacy advocates.

          The fourth amendment's applicability hinges on the word "unreasonable" in the first sentence. The question is whether the NSA's activities constitute a reasonable search. This can be debated but I have heard no argument yet that convinces me that the NSA has not crossed the line into conducting an unreasonable search. And since they have managed to keep everything a secret I can't even prove I have standing in a court of law to sue for a violation of my rights.

          The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect - it infringes privacy, but the impact on any particular person's life isn't unreasonable.

          When the police are looking for a suspect they are looking for a specific person and they do not continue to infringe upon your person or property indefinitely and in secret. The NSA's program would be like the police showing up daily and rooting through your mailbox and phone bills looking for information that might incriminate you without any warrant or even probable cause.

        • by Bengie (1121981)

          The NSA's sniffing is legally comparable to a police dragnet checking door-to-door for a suspect

          Forgot to add "and forcefully entering your house"

        • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:25PM (#44302581)

          Legally, the fourth amendment is generally held to mean that the government can't disrupt your life with its searches or target someone specifically without a good enough reason to convince a judge.

          So it would be legal to search our homes with tiny insect drones as long as they search all our homes?

          It doesn't disrupt our lives, and its not targeting someone specifically.

          The argument really shouldn't be "is that legal?", it should be "that's not what we as a society want, so make it illegal and amend the constitution to do it if we have to."

          This is -why- the constitution is a "living document"; we're supposed to be able to fix it when a hole like this shows up. We shouldn't have to make difficult reaching arguments about how a surveillance state is a 1st or 4th amendment violation.

          • by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:49PM (#44302921)
            While I agree with you completely, changing the Constitution is only good if the people that are supposed to be following it are actually following it.

            It's like the feigned surprise of the other global powers when they discovered that we were listening to them. They were doing the same thing, but had to pretend to be surprised lest their own citizens discover how deeply rooted their own spying programs are. These assholes make a bunch of rules and regulations that look and seem reasonable to normal people, and as long as they continue to pretend that they're following the rules the public doesn't know anything about it. The "rules" are only there to make us happy while we don't know that they're being broken. THAT is what needs to change (and honestly, I doubt it will until the population gets a LOT more educated). It's not that the rules need to exist because they already do...it's that there's no oversight and no recourse for normal people. Any oversight committees immediately get jumped on by the special interests and their oversight becomes undersight really damned quickly.
      • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:15PM (#44301739) Homepage

        I would say the 9th is probably the most important and most overlooked.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          Yup. If the ninth amendment were not ignored by pretty much everyone but Libertarians, it would require the government to amend the constitution every time it wanted to violate human rights in a new way. Ultimately we'd just end up with a lot more amendments though because Republicrats mostly support the status quo. With the possible exception of PRISM of course. I suspect a national referendum to stop PRISM would pass, although maybe not by as much of a landslide as we'd like to believe. There are a lot of

      • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:19PM (#44301805) Homepage

        here's the basic premise in the founding of the enlightenment model US (boiled down):
        rights were given to you by your creator, not by your government.
        your government didn't give them to so, they can't take them away.

        if any right is allowed to be redefined as a privilege, or if it is re-cast as something "given" to you by a government then all rights can be redefined or recast. and if they are redefined, they can be taken away arbitrarilly. so they are all equally important. if you want to keep any of your rights then you must be pro-gun, skateboarding isn't a crime, don't spy on us, free speach even if i don't like it, punk rock anarchist. anything less is just a slow slide into slavery.

        god knows we have too many people who only care about the rights they feel like using. conservative and liberal.

      • by Sir Holo (531007) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @07:33PM (#44304011)
        An attorney pursues all violations (crimes) that apply to a case. This NSA stuff (IANAL) is conceivably both.

        First Amendment (...the right to peaceably assemble...): Let's say that you talk on the phone with a weightlifting buddy. You "assemble" with the guy to lift weights. For reasons unknown, the NSA thinks he's a potential terrorist. Oops! Well, now, guess what? By association, under the NSA's tapping procedures, you are also swept into their dragnet of invasive surveillance, and they start examining who you call (leading, arguably, to the additional fourth-amendment violations of an unreasonable search).

        The "...unreasonable search..." bit of the fourth will undoubtedly end up in the Supreme Court for final interpretation.

        From a logical perspective, why would the NSA be spending all of this effort on collecting and correlating population-wide who-called-who and when information, if they didn't think it would provide them with information. Specifically, information that they couldn't get without otherwise violating known and established-by-prior-case laws?

        They're essentially exploiting an area of the law that is vague in relation to the very recent explosion of electronic communication and metadata storage thereof. The constitution doesn't define "unreasonable" in terms of "envelope information" on phone calls, emails, or physical letters.

        The NSA has also argued, in press releases or public discussions, that because you share your telephone call metadata with a company, that you have forsaken all rights to privacy of that information. A ludicrous argument.

        I have a reasonable, but only tacit, expectation AT&T isn't going to post all of my telephone metadata from the past 10 years in the New York Times tomorrow. This should be codified into law. What legislator, attorney, negotiator, or lobbyist would agree to the idea that all of their communications metadata is public? Hmmn?
    • Re:good (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:02PM (#44301575)
      This has already been settled in court. If you can't prove that you were harmed by a secret program, you don't have standing to sue. (Regardless of the fact that you can never prove that you were harmed because, you know, it's a secret)
      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        But it's not a secret, not anymore, so it hasn't been settled. Since we now know the program exists, and have proof that it exists, the case takes on a whole different aspect (namely, whether metadata collection infringes the various rights granted in the various cited amendments.)

        • According to the government, it's still a secret program. If something becomes public it does not remove its security designation.
          • by whoever57 (658626)

            According to the government, it's still a secret program. If something becomes public it does not remove its security designation.

            The government can claim that black is white also, but it doesn't make it true. The government has to convince the court that the plain meaning of the word "secret" doesn't apply. Of course, with the Roberts court, the government has a high probablility of doing just that.

            Question: how do you get promoted as a judge? By tending to favor people who sue the government or by t

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        If you can't prove that you were harmed by a secret program, you don't have standing to sue.

        Well, if we have evidence that ALL (meta)calls are being monitored, then that seems like anyone should be able to prove they were harmed.

        • If you can't prove that you were harmed by a secret program, you don't have standing to sue.

          Well, if we have evidence that ALL (meta)calls are being monitored, then that seems like anyone should be able to prove they were harmed.

          Okay, so legally, how were YOU harmed by this? Be specific, generalities won't get you far in court.

          • I am the government, it acts in OUR NAME. I am harmed when my agent acts contrary to the rules we have set forth for it.
            • Okay, now that we have the high-order generalities out of the way, can you provide some specifics?

              • Mass surveilling the contacts, connections and communications of every U.S citizen is fundamentally opposed to the 4th amendment. This is a serious and immediate threat to the The People and the road to tyranny. Any U.S. citizen should have standing to question and demand the end of these programs.
          • Tightening the tin foil even harder hurts.

            Even worse, the foil rips and I have to get a new one. This gets expensive.

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            mental anguish
          • by Bengie (1121981)
            Right to privacy is no less important than right to life. So, if someone took away your life, what kind of harm would you have taken? Same difference.

            Before you counter with "you just compared someone dying to snooping on your phone calls", well, show me the math to prove that one is less important. As far as I can see, they're both innate rights.

            Again, prove that they're are not equal, using scientific method. Have fun. Until then, we can continue to assume that they're are both as damaging.

            Hint: T
      • Re:good (Score:5, Informative)

        by kilfarsnar (561956) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:15PM (#44301759)

        This has already been settled in court. If you can't prove that you were harmed by a secret program, you don't have standing to sue. (Regardless of the fact that you can never prove that you were harmed because, you know, it's a secret)

        Precedent has been set, yes. But the ongoing lawsuit Hedges v. Obama may provide a counter precedent. Hedges cannot show he has been harmed by the NDAA of 2012, but he can show that he could be. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. So far he has been successful, but the government is appealing.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedges_v._Obama

      • This is a very wrong precedent. ANY US CITIZEN has standing against his government acting this way. TO tell me I have no standing while they blatantly and with malice ignore the the 4th is absolute bullshit. The instant they broke the law, I became an injured party. Ignoring the 4th is breaking the law, no matter how 'legal' you make it.
        • The instant they broke the law, I became an injured party. Ignoring the 4th is breaking the law, no matter how 'legal' you make it.

          While I agree with you, that argument is not sufficient. The government's defense is quite simple. They will ask you to show what specific (to you), quantifiable and irreparable harm you suffered. For better or worse that is not easy to do when all the evidence of harm to you is classified.

          • by Wookact (2804191)
            My answer? It is secret. Government is allowed to keep them, so am I.
          • I have suffered mental anguish from the constant fear that, due to governmemt spying, saying things like "I have suffered mental anguish from government spying" will be used against me in legal or financial dealings.

      • This has already been settled in court. If you can't prove that you were harmed by a secret program, you don't have standing to sue. (Regardless of the fact that you can never prove that you were harmed because, you know, it's a secret)

        Technically true but there is ample Supreme Court precedent from the civil rights days that says, more or less, the fact that the government knows who you associate with harms you. I refer to you NAACP v.Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) [wikipedia.org] which made it clear that people had the right to associate anonymously which was echoed a few years later in NAACP v. Alabama ex. rel. Flowers, 377 U.S. 288 (1964) [justia.com]. I believe you will agree that the NSA collecting this information the way it does makes anonymous telephonic ass

    • by cod3r_ (2031620)
      NSA just going to find dirt on anyone who tries to do it and put us all in jail..
    • Re:good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:30PM (#44301931) Homepage

      We need not only people doing this, but we need to draw national and international attention to this. If they start pulling this "national security" excuse the way they have been for years and years (decades has it been? yeah... since Bush's first term and before!) the world will be watching. Stock in US companies will decline until the government begins to answer for its crimes. Money is the only way to see any sort of resolution to the problem. And no doubt the first resolutions will be "yes, of course we will stop doing this... the things you know about... but we won't stop doing the things you didn't know about and we will quietly change the things you knew about so they are now different enough that they are no longer the same thing." They won't "stop" and they won't reform. They'll wriggle and dodge. Then they will get exposed again. It won't be over the first time.

      The cries of the people will not bring results. It will be the cries of business and speculators/investors/bankers which will be heard. I don't like the way the system currently works, but if it can be somehow used to make some change, it's good. It's not ideal and we should have something better. But things have to change and the sooner, the better. But more than that, we need some constitutional amendments and/or laws which add specific consequences to government players who violate the constitution. That stuff just can't keep going on.

    • Re:good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:56PM (#44302257) Journal

      Why? The state will simply use the "mother may i" word of the day, national security, and it'll all go poof!

      The simple fact of the matter, which so many refuse to accept, is this: you can NOT fix a corrupted system by working WITHIN that system...why? Because its corrupted silly! It would be like saying if you played three card monty enough times with the hustler on the corner you would come out ahead. in reality you can't win because if it looks like you have a shot they will just change the rules on you, just that easy.

      So I'd wish them luck but all they are doing is pissing money down a rathole, I have a better chance of winning the powerball than they do of winning against the fed over spying, or did everyone forget the immunity for the telecos that the administration supported and got when it looked like their dirty little secrets would come out? the absolute best case scenario would be another Scooter Libby, the fed puts up a scapegoat and gives them a slap on the wrist and the MSM buries the story, game over. More likely they won't even get that, the judges will cockblock them with some catch-22 like "You can't bring a case unless you can prove you were being spied upon...which you can't prove because we won't give you discovery or force them to give you the evidence that shows it was you being spied upon" and again, game over.

      Sadly all we can do is grab as much as we can for ourselves and wait for the whole rotten mess to collapse, which with the jobs being sent overseas, 2 wars, and a fed that is printing money almost as fast as Zimbabwe? I predict it won't last another 20 years. This is why all empires fall, they become too nasty and corrupt until the whole rotten mess can't be sustained and it all falls down.

    • If you support things like this, take the time to send a donation to the EFF over this! They are largely funded by concerned citizens such a ourselves. There are many ways to send such donations - obviously through their website, but also while doing things like buying Humble Bundle games or attending DEF CON in a few weeks - and this is an excellent time to show your support.

      You, personally, can help fight these abuses. That's what donating to the people filing lawsuits like this does: it helps promote our position in this fight.

      Federal programs and federal lawyers are paid for with taxes. Legally speaking, you don't get to decide what those taxes go toward. However, you can choose to pay a bit more to help groups like the EFF fight against such misuse of your funds!

  • Bravo EFF (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:49PM (#44301393)

    Again. Go to their site - eff.org - and donate.

    • by SOOPRcow (1279010) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:50PM (#44301415)
      But then the government will know who I associate with!
    • Re:Bravo EFF (Score:5, Interesting)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:57PM (#44301521)

      I wonder when Paypal will stop processing donations to the EFF.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        I wonder when Paypal will stop processing donations to the EFF.

        Heh, PayPal may stop processing donations (or, rather freeze donations - they'll still take the donations) just because they want the money. It's not like they are regulated.

        A more interesting question is when will Mastercard/Visa start blocking EFF? I seem to recall that they did that once against Wikileaks after a few passionate speeches by senators.

        • Re:Bravo EFF (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:23PM (#44301857) Homepage

          A more interesting question is when will Mastercard/Visa start blocking EFF? I seem to recall that they did that once against Wikileaks after a few passionate speeches by senators.

          Probably never. While WikiLeaks was quite happy to ignore US law in its "protests", the EFF has danced happily within the realm of legality for its muckraking. Sure, they annoy politicians, but they do so while staying within the law. They're a champion of freedom that everybody can publicly support... and if one politician ever attacks them, his opponent will enjoy the boost in public support.

          • by Proteus (1926)

            Not only that, but EFF is very clearly a legally-formed US organization under which all of its US activities are run. WikiLeaks was, for payment purposes, a foreign entity.

            EFF could very easily sue the pants off a provider that acted to suppress payments based on their 1st Amendment protections. (Incidentally, that the EFF has 1st Amendment protection is the upside of the SCOTUS ruling that corporations are entitled to rights reserved to "people").

    • Fuck that, how do I sign on for the class-action?

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      The DHS will finally have RMS in its crosshairs. Alien vs Predator...
    • Good point.

      ...aaaaaaand done.
    • Again. Go to their site - eff.org - and donate.

      I just did. They are still taking PayPal, and I don't give a rat's arse what alphabet agency puts me on their little watch list. It was time to put some money where my mouth is.

      It's time to take a stand, people.

  • Not nice to fool around with spy agencies.
    • by Andy_R (114137)

      Govt. drones is if they strike you down, you become more powerful than they can possibly imagine.

      Dead too, of course, but imagine the publicity!

  • by intermodal (534361) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:53PM (#44301451) Homepage Journal

    then it's still none of their damn business. Consittutionally speaking.

  • Yee Ha! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:56PM (#44301513)

    Lets see how far we can get. We all need to donate. This is a test of our very democracy. I fear its long gone.

  • by gentryx (759438) * on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:59PM (#44301547) Homepage Journal
    Today, most US media seem to be obsessed with pointing fingers at Snowden. What few people realize is how this total surveillance of NSA and GCHQ tilt the balance of powers. Using graph theory, it is possible to compute (just from knowing who's talking to whom) who the agitators are in any given movement. If the Brits would have had the same technology back in 1770, there would have been no American Revolution. They'd simply have pinpointed and jailed the members of the Committees of Correspondence, leaving the revolution headless. A malevolent government could use this technology to suppress its own people. This is too much power.
    • by mlwmohawk (801821)

      Would government controlled media behave any differently? That being said, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have to at least consider that we have a small bird of the family anatidae on our hands.

      We are too focused on direct forms of control, the old communist and fascist couldn't even DREAM of what we have today, and it is all done with a fabric of self sustaining bribery.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If the Brits would have had the same technology back in 1770, there would have been no American Revolution.

      Wow. A pro-NSA posting on /. that is not instantly modded as Troll?

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        If you think that's pre-NSA, you (to borrow a term from history) need your head examined. The entire point of that post was that the government can't be trusted with such power, because it leads to tyranny. You, not the GP, are more worthy of Troll moderation (sadly, I already posted in this thread).

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:29PM (#44301915) Journal

      This. The real problem is misuse, not use for finding terrorists. As long as there is one secret room in one of these multiying billion-dollar data centers, it's all for naught.

      Let us listen in on the Republicans, or Democrats, and see their strategy. Then we can preemptively counter it with trial balloons, dirty tricks, astroturfing, and so on. This crap is bad enough without the power to make any of the opponents' plans stillborn or DOA.

      Let's check up on candidate X. No alarms go off. See his calls, and calls of those he calls -- ooh, he's talking to someone rich, or a PAC. How can we discredit them?

      Of course, Snowden claimed he could listen directly to their phone with no alarms going off, but even without, it's a dangerous power.

      "They can't do that" is toothless if it's just a manual requirement for forms and permission, instead of uncorruptible logging and alarms going off in 50 managers' offices.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:47PM (#44302875) Journal

        The real problem is misuse, not use for finding terrorists.

        Even if this program were 100% targeted towards terrorism, it would still violate the 4th amendment. That's a real problem. If the government needs increased surveillance powers to keep the people safe, it must amend its constitution. Anything else is a crime.

        • it would still violate the 4th amendment.

          If you make it to the Supreme Court and convince 4 other justices to vote with you, it might after the next case. It doesn't today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:00PM (#44301549)

    Thought they had nothing to hide too...

    You may have nothing to hide now but how do you know that after the next election the government wont start targeting the group you are affiliated with. Don't think it can happen... During the last election the IRS targeted conservative non profit organizations...

    Maybe next time the government will target liberal organizations... Remember McCarthy?

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:14PM (#44301723)

    The EFF suing the NSA is like me challenging Mike Tyson to a fistfight.

    • The EFF suing the NSA is like me challenging Mike Tyson to a fistfight.

      With Tyson biting your ear claiming the "state secret" clause

  • by organgtool (966989) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:16PM (#44301763)
    I imagine the court will say that the government is not stopping anyone from exercising their rights to free speech simply because they are recording their conversations and building graphs of associations. It would seem more effective to claim these rights under the Fourth Amendment since this deals more with privacy than the First Amendment. In any event, this will likely end the way it did the last time the EFF tried to sue the federal government - the court will seek documents from the security agencies, the security agencies will claim that they can not reveal that information for reasons of "national security", and the court will say that the EFF doesn't have a case since they don't have any evidence due to the fact that the defendant refuses to provide the documents the court requested. This is how fascism begins in a democracy.
  • by gnujoshua (540710) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:31PM (#44301937) Homepage
    The plaintiffs include:
    • First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles
    • Bill of Rights Defense Committee
    • Calguns Foundation
    • California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees
    • Council on Islamic Relations
    • Franklin Armory
    • Free Press
    • Free Software Foundation
    • Greenpeace
    • Human Rights Watch
    • Media Alliance
    • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
    • Open Technology Institute
    • People for the American Way, Public Knowledge
    • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
    • TechFreedom
    • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
  • Easy to Abuse (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PineHall (206441) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:39PM (#44302057)

    My big concern is how easy it is to abuse this information in big ways.

    "Mr President, we have information from an anonymous source (wink, wink) that you opponent is talking to Joe Smith. Now we know (wink, wink) that Joe has some connections to some shady characters. Your official reelection campaign does not need to worry about this. I am going to pass on this information to some of your supporters and they will break the news with some attack ads."

    That temptation is use this information to gain an advantage is great. The argument that it will only be used to fight terrorism assumes that those with access will always work for the good of all and ignore any personal advantage they could gain. We all are by nature selfish and will usually act to our advantage. That bunch of good old boys that will not always do the right thing, especially since they operate in secrecy with minimal checks. It is too easy to abuse this information.

  • Put your hands in your pockets ladies and gents, girls and boys, support the cause with your monies. Let's bring these dogs to heel.

  • The NSA already knows the outcome of this trial.

  • ... needs to be the metadata of phone records for Congresscritters, and their staff. They're already required to log physical visits by lobbyists - seeing who calls whom during breaks in legislative sessions would be even more interesting.

    Maybe that would convince them that easy global access to traffic analysis is too dangerous for routine government access.

  • In dismissing the case, the court agreed with the precedent set in two other cases, which basically said that Americans donâ(TM)t even have the right to sue their government over its surveillance program, unless they can prove that their communications were intercepted. Of course, thatâ(TM)s essentially impossible since the program is classified and you canâ(TM)t use classified documents in court, even if you somehow got your hands on them.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/06/10/why_you_cant_sue_the_ [salon.com]

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