Today, TechFreedom joined eighteen other civil society groups from across the political spectrum as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for illegally collecting their call records. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the coalition.
The case, First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, centers on First Amendment violations by the federal government’s recently-exposed bulk telephone records collection program. An order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) released last month confirmed that the NSA had ordered the collection of all Verizon customers’ phone metadata, including the time, duration, and identifying information of every call made. Such orders have been given frequently since at least 2006.
The following quote can be attributed to Berin Szoka , President of TechFreedom:
We’re standing up for the constitutional rights of all Americans: The First Amendment protects our right to communicate and associate privately. The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures by barring the kind of general warrant that compelled U.S. telephone carriers to turn over sensitive information about Americans’ telephone call records. The secretive processes of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court violate the most fundamental guarantees of the Fifth Amendment to due process, as well as basic principles of the rule of law.
As severe as these problems are, it won’t be easy to get the courts to face the fundamental legal questions raised by our lawsuit. So even if this suit is blocked on technicalities, it will help to force a discussion in Washington about reforming the laws authorizing surveillance — and covering up these constitutional violations from the American people. I can’t think of a more vital case to bring as TechFreedom’s first lawsuit.
In addition to TechFreedom and the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, other plaintiffs include Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Calguns Foundation, Greenpeace, Public Knowledge, Free Press, and Human Rights Watch. EFF summarizes the case here , and the full complaint can be found here .
Szoka is available for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. TechFreedom also recently joined an amicus brief before the FISA Court arguing that companies holding user data have a First Amendment right to disclose aggregate information about the number of FISA requests they receive and how many accounts have been affected.