The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in oral arguments to preserve the lawsuits challenging the U.S. government’s massive domestic spying program managed by the NSA.
Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) delivered oral arguments in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the court to preserve lawsuits challenging the U.S. government’s massive domestic spying program led by the National Security Agency (NSA).
The EFF press release states, “[The] EFF asked the court to block the government’s attempt to bury the suits with claims of state secrecy and an unconstitutional “immunity” law for telecoms that participated in the spying.”
The EFF was represented in court by EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn and Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston, arguing against the dismissal of the EFF’s two court cases, Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA, as well as 32 other cases brought against various other telecommunications carriers.
Both cases hinge on the NSA’s “back-door access” to AT&T’s domestic telecom network and communications records, which allows the NSA to intercept and surveil AT&T customers’ phone calls, email communications, phone records, etc.
Bankston stated to the court, “”The scope and legality of the NSA program has been the subject of widespread reporting and debate for half a decade — it is hardly a secret. And Congress long ago crafted balanced and comprehensive security procedures to govern courts’ handling of secret evidence about electronic surveillance to ensure that the Judicial Branch is always able to watch over Executive Branch spying while preserving national security.”
He added, “Yet the government still claims that any judicial scrutiny of the NSA program would disclose ‘state secrets’ and harm national security. It’s time for these lawsuits to proceed and for the courts to be allowed to do their job and determine the legality of the NSA program.”
EFF also argued that the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008 violates constitutional separation of powers in its attempt to provide telecommunications carriers with immunity to lawsuits.
“The FAA effectively allows the President to grant favored companies a ‘get out of jail free’ card even though the law prohibits telecoms from violating their customers’ privacy,” said Cohn. “We can’t allow the government to stack the deck against ordinary Americans. We need to protect against officials who overstep limits on their power.”
For more information on the NSA’s domestic spying program and the lawsuits brought against it, visit EFF’s website.