Privacy Group to Supreme Court: Tell NSA to Stop Spying on Americans
July 10, 2013
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a petition with the US Supreme Court to end the National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM surveillance program.
EPIC stated: “it is simply not possible that every phone record in the possession of a telecommunications firm could be relevant to an authorized investigation.”
As a customer of Verizon, EPIC has asked that the Supreme Court order the NSA to “disclose all information on its client’s call logs.”
Using the “exceptional circumstances”, Rule 20 of the Supreme Court, this petition for an extraordinary writ, EPIC is taking a chance that this appeal will be dead in the water before it is considered.
Although previous attempts at this same end have faltered, EPIC has requested that the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) be relieved of their over-reaching and intrusive spying methods that have placed into question that validity of our 4th Amendment rights.
The petition reads in part: “It is simply not possible that every phone record in the possession of a telecommunications firm could be relevant to an authorized investigation. Such an interpretation of Section 1861 would render meaningless the qualifying phrases contained in the provision and eviscerate the purpose of the Act.”
EPIC challenges the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) ability to review all documents they allegedly approved for the NSA to allow phone calls , emails and other various forms of surveillance to be conducted.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC said that this lawsuit would “directly challenge the authority of the court to approve the phone records’ collection under the Patriot Act.”
In fact, EPIC states that FISA would have ”exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation’.”
Senators Ron Wyden and mark Udall say that there is a “secret interpretation” of the Patriot Act with regard to the world “relevant” that gives the executive branch authority to send out surveillance agencies such as the NSA to gather intelligence on the whim of the office of US president.
Stewart Baker, lawyer and former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Secruty (DHS) is skeptical about EPIC’s motives for bringing such a case.
Baker said: “Color me deeply skeptical. This sounds more like a stunt than serious litigation. The Supreme Court doesn’t take cases just because an issue is in the newspapers and civil liberties organizations want the Court to review what the government is doing. There are procedures by which cases can come to the Supreme Court on this issue in the ordinary way — through the appeals courts. The Court depends on such procedures to make sure issues are properly ventilated before the Court reviews them, and it will be highly reluctant to take a case of this importance without following the usual process.”
Last month, Senator Rand Paul offered to challenge the NSA in the Supreme Court over the blatant disregard for obtaining search warrants prior to their surveillance program and spying was initiated on American citizens and residents of foreign nations; including heads of state, diplomats and members of foreign governments.
Paul said: “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking all the internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”
Snowden’s document show that GCHQ was involved with the NSA PRISM program which syphoned data from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and other tech corporations to create profiles on internet users.
PRISM data was handed to the GCHQ through a sharing agreement.
The GCHQ has their own spy program called TEMPORA which was exposed by Snowden. This is a clear violation of European privacy laws as if extracts massive amounts of data on unwitting UK citizens.
PI’s petition will be heard at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), a secret court that sides with the British government.