Court Denies EFF Effort to Obtain Classified Significant Surveillance Court Opinions
Electronic Frontier Foundation, Aaron Mackey,March 28, 2019
A federal court’s ruling earlier this week has blunted a key provision of the surveillance reform law that required the government to be more transparent about legal decisions made by the United States secret surveillance court.
After Edward Snowden revealed the government’s ongoing mass collection of Americans’ telephone phone records in 2013, Congress responded by passing the USA Freedom Act in 2015. In addition to limiting the NSA’s surveillance authority, Congress also clearly intended to end the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s (FISC) ability to keep the decisions it made behind closed doors secret.
Since its inception in the 1970s, the government has asked the FISC to decide what constitutional or other legal protections, if any, Americans and others enjoy while seeking approval of the government’s secret mass surveillance programs. Though we were not happy with many aspects of the final USA Freedom language, EFF was pleased that the final language did require that the government review and declassify “each decision, order, or opinion” that contained significant interpretations of the Constitution or other laws and to make them “publicly available to the greatest extent practicable.” We believe this language, along with statements from Members of Congress during the debate, clearly require the FISC to release decisions both from before 2015 as well as after. . . .
California, District Court, Edward Snowden, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Freedom of Information Act Requests, Government Transparency, Law, Lawsuits, National Security, National Security Agency, Phone Records, Privacy, Secret Law, Surveillance, USA Freedom Act
Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says
New York Times, Charlie Savage, March 4, 2019
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has quietly shut down a system that analyzes logs of Americans’ domestic calls and texts, according to a senior Republican congressional aide, halting a program that has touched off disputes about privacy and the rule of law since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.
In a raw assertion of executive power, President George W. Bush’s administration started the program as part of its intense pursuit for Qaeda conspirators in the weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and a court later secretly blessed it. The intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden disclosed the program’s existence in 2013, jolting the public and contributing to growing awareness of how both governments and private companies harvest and exploit personal data.
The way that intelligence analysts have gained access to bulk records of Americans’ phone calls and texts has evolved, but the purpose has been the same: They analyze social links to hunt for associates of known terrorism suspects. . . .
George W. Bush Administration, Edward Snowden, National Security Agency, New York Times, Phone Records, Patriot Act, Privacy, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Security, USA Freedom Act
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