For quite some time now, the public has known that the government is keeping tabs on its own people through use of the NSA (National Security Agency). While survey after survey shows that the American people are against this, spying seems to have continued virtually uninterrupted. This is why the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has headed to court.
On December 20th, they made the case that the NSA is actively violating the Fourth Amendment when they practice data mining activities that involve tapping into the backbone of the Internet. This past Friday, they asked for partial summary judgment from the judge on Jewel v. NSA.
The case was filed on behalf of Carolyn Jewel, a San Francisco resident, back in 2008. She and other AT&T customers who felt their rights were violated when the company took records of their Internet use and routed them directly to a secret room located in San Francisco that was operated by the NSA.
Of course, there have been other people pounding on the door of the NSA as well. Most famous amongst these whistleblowers is Edward Snowden, but Bill Binney and Thomas Drake deserve recognition as well.
In response to the uproar that has been going on since June of 2013, when news broke of the NSA’s activities, the government has largely made the argument that their warrantless tapping is perfectly legal under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Whether or not this is true is actually is tough to say, though the government’s reasoning seems a bit hard to follow.
Basically, the government claims that the aforementioned section of the FISA Amendments Act allows for communications gathering and monitoring of this kind so long as it’s done quickly and with the help of automated processes.
The EFF will argue that it doesn’t matter what technique the government is using because they don’t have the right to violate the Fourth Amendment no matter what. Now that it’s been six years, the EFF’s motion clearly states that the courts should have enough information to finally provide a ruling on whether or not the NSA is carrying out unconstitutional searches and seizures.
Time will tell if they’re right or not. However, there’s no doubting that this will be a landmark ruling with plenty of far reaching effects that will hit all of us. The NSA’s tactics have certainly been unprecedented, but that hasn’t stopped them from practicing them. Perhaps this lawsuit will.