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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  • identicon
    Mark Wing, 22 Feb 2016 @ 2:23pm

    A big thanks to the EFF for being one of the few defenders of our rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2016 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      Isn't every elected official to our government sworn to uphold the constitution and defend our rights? oh wait. Never mind

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Digitari, 22 Feb 2016 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Re:

        yes, but thats the High Constitution that only applies to them, like the High court, low court.
        Our rights.. to be fleeced and spied upon and kept in the dark as much as possible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 23 Feb 2016 @ 12:27am

        Re: Re:

        What makes you think they don't uphold the constitution and defend your rights? They are in pristine state, usually still covered by shrinkwrap.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 1:39am

        Re: Re:

        Well, they should all be in jail for Perjury and Oathbreaking, then.

        But hey, I'm just a madman.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2016 @ 3:03pm

      Re:

      Agreed. Big thanks to the EFF for this and so much more. EFF is one of the few causes I donate to that I'm in total agreement with their mission.

      Donate to EFF!

      "Nobody does more lasting good for the Internet with less. Every penny you donate makes change for the better." — Cory Doctorow

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2016 @ 2:31pm

    no need for the NSA to worry much. Theresa May will hand everything they get in the UK over to them anyway!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2016 @ 6:38pm

      Re:

      We have to cover our bases...


      ~NSA

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      klaus (profile), 22 Feb 2016 @ 11:49pm

      Re:

      True, but that gives the Brits the opportunity to filter and massage said data. And I'm not convinced that 5-eyes is all that cosy. I just don't see "M" putting that much faith in Stephen Harper, or Tony Abbott. Or even David "porky" Cameron, come to think of it...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    That One Other Not So Random Guy, 22 Feb 2016 @ 2:48pm

    A bunch?

    "with evidence that AT&T basically routes a bunch of data through NSA filters"


    with evidence that AT&T basically routes ALL data through NSA filters. FTFA Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 12:03am

    will not end well. Every time A government agency does not get it's way they retaliate out of spite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 12:37am

    Listen and donate to EFF.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Feb 2016 @ 1:18am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 2:04am

    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?".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Feb 2016 @ 11:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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