Court Says EFF Can Move Forward With Discovery In Its Big Case Against NSA Surveillance

from the this-could-get-interesting dept

Jewel v. NSA is the EFF’s big case against the NSA over its surveillance efforts. It predates the Snowden revelations (from a lot), and stems from that time an AT&T technician, Mark Klein, just walked through the doors of the EFF to provide the organization with evidence that AT&T basically routes a bunch of data through NSA filters for “upstream” collection (part of the NSA’s “702” collection program). The case has gone through a bunch of permutations and procedural issues, many of which have not gone the EFF’s way, unfortunately. However, the latest is a big one: the judge has said that EFF can move forward with discovery efforts, basically requiring the government to turn over a bunch of information:

This marks the first time a party has been allowed to gather factual evidence from the NSA in a case involving the agency?s warrantless surveillance. The government had fought all our requests to proceed with this lawsuit, arguing that the state secrets privilege protects it against both discovery and liability. Judge White previously rejected that argument for our statutory claims under the Wiretap Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Stored Communications Act. This ruling affirms Judge White?s previous decision and opens the door for discovery.

This is an important step forward to lifting the cloak of secrecy that has thus far shielded the NSA from judicial scrutiny, and EFF looks forward to finally getting to the nuts and bolts of this extraordinarily important lawsuit.

You can read the ruling here, which is mostly just procedural details. Still, given how successful the US government has been in basically killing off any and every lawsuit that attempts to challenge its surveillance, getting to move forward on discovery is a big, big deal. Kudos to the EFF team.

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Comments on “Court Says EFF Can Move Forward With Discovery In Its Big Case Against NSA Surveillance”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Two things to expect:

The word [REDACTED] and black bars. There’s going to be a lot of both in any documents handed over, leaving only the most harmless and/or useless bits still intact.

The judge can order them to hand over documents, but I doubt they have enough of a spine to call the NSA out when(not ‘if’) the NSA hands over documents that are all but useless.

Anonymous Coward says:

I fear that, should the EFF actually make any meaningful progress (heck even if they don’t) with its discovery the NSA might retaliate via govt. with a charge of treason or conspiracy or some other BS like that.

You know, stuff like: “They sued under false pretenses to get access to top secret documents, but what they wanted all along was to share that sensitive information with TERRORISTS! Won’t someone think of the children yer honor?”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh dear, we are very sorry but all of that factual evidence involving the NSA’s warrantless surveillance was

Choose one:

1. eaten by the dog.
2. lost in a fire/earthquake/during a lightning storm/in an undocumented terrorist attack.
3. erased during a computer malfunction
4. erased during a hard drive malfunction
5. never recorded
6. re-categorized as pertaining to National Security and rendered unavailable.

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