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Electronic Frontier Foundation Government Privacy The Courts United States

EFF Sues NSA, Justice Department, FBI 333

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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  • Bravo EFF (Score:5, Informative)

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

    Again. Go to their site - - and donate.

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

    by stewsters ( 1406737 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @03:58PM (#44301531)
    Then go here to launder your money: []

    And give 100% to the EFF. You get the XKCD book too.
  • 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: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)
  • 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.

  • by betterprimate ( 2679747 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:40PM (#44302065)

    They already tried to use the Fourth Amendment. Problem is you basically have to make the government admit to how they violated the fourth amendment:

    "The EFF is demanding that the Justice Department immediately process the records previously requested under FOIA and are asking for the feds to compensate them for any attorney fees incurred in their lawsuit against the government.

    'As Congress gears up to reconsider the FAA, the American public needs to know how the law has been misused," EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel says. 'The DOJ should follow the law and release this information to the American public.'" []

    More... [] [] []

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @04:57PM (#44302263) Homepage

    And then there's this argument: Rights aren't real if they can be taken away from you arbitrarily for no crime whatsoever.

    George Carlin rightfully references Japanese-American internment as proof that rights in America are a fiction.

  • 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 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.

  • by RoknrolZombie ( 2504888 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @05:49PM (#44302921) Homepage
    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'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 Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:31PM (#44303413)

    But the 9th tackles it in a very simple way: Show me where in the Constitution it is enumerated that the government is allowed to do this. You can't? Then the government is not allowed to engage in this activity.

    It goes from attempting to prove that the government is violating something to the government proving that it is allowed to do something. A whole different ball of wax. And a whole lot easier for the people.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @06:38PM (#44303493) Homepage Journal

    It may sound like sophistry, but in fact the government didn't take the rights from the Japanese-Americans, they still had them. What it did was fail to respect (violated) those rights. The rights are not the government's to give or take.

    Admittedly, from a practical standpoint the two were indistinguishable to the people in the camps. The difference is in morals and ethics. It is unethical and immoral to fail to respect people's rights.

  • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @08:19PM (#44304319) Homepage

    You know what else used to be a nutball theory? That the NSA had vast spying capabilities being used to monitor large swaths of the Internet all of the time.

    There's plenty of historical examples that show lists of citizens meeting some criteria turning into a list of people to inflict government action upon. We don't even have leave the US to find one. It was the US Census database that was used to round up Japanese citizens for internment to fulfill Executive Order 9066. If I have an unusual political belief--let's use the example from the TFA of advocating marijuana--I have every reason to believe that when the government collects data about my communication, it might one day use that to prosecute me for drug related offenses, and launch investigations of those I deal with too. That sort of chilling effect on political speech is why monitoring makes free political speech impossible. Any student of history knows the bad situations that leads to.

  • by cfsops ( 2922481 ) on Tuesday July 16, 2013 @10:12PM (#44304921)

    Unless you really believe the nutball theory that evil UN men in black will use those databases to swoop in and start confiscating guns indiscriminately then it's pretty implausible that holding gun sellers and owners accountable would violate anyone's rights.

    It was exactly that "nutball" confiscation of guns, perpetrated by James against Protestants, that led to the assertion of the right in the British Bill of Rights and which in turn led to its inclusion in our Second Amendment.

    I'm sure I don't know what you mean by holding gun sellers and owners accountable. Hold them accountable for what? Are you suggesting that gun sellers and owners are, by definition, guilty of some crime for which they must be held responsible? If they've done something "wrong" and have been judged guilty, as you seem to suggest, what's the point of a list? Why not just punish them?

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser