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Electronic Frontier Foundation Kept NSA Busy In Courts In 2014

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the rights group working hard to protect civil liberties in the digital era, kept the government and intelligence agencies on toes via lawsuits and litigation throughout 2014. The organization, which filed its first lawsuit against NSA way back in 2008, has filed several Freedom of Information lawsuits against the government agencies during the last few years. In the previous year, many cases filed by EFF reached important milestones in the courts which meant that the government had to spend an awful lot of time defending the spying and surveillance practices of the intelligence agencies. As we move into a new year, here is a quick recap of what the organization achieved in 2014:

1) Jewel v. NSA

This case was filed by EFF against NSA and several other government agencies on behalf of AT&T customers in 2008. Jewel v. NSA aims to stop the ongoing, illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of communications of millions of American citizens as well as hold accountable the officials who authorized it. In December 2014, EFF Special Counsel argued how the government is violating the 4th amendment by intercepting internet communications through tapping of AT&T’s fiber optic cables.

2) Klayman v. Obama

This lawsuit was filed by Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and watchdog group Freedom Watch, against NSA over collection of phone metadata from Verizon’s customers. In fact, he was one of the first persons to sue NSA after Snowden revealed details about the agency’s mass surveillance programs. In 2013, the court issued a preliminary ruling in Klayman’s favor and in 2014, he was joined by EFF and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who filed a brief against the government’s assertion that collection of metadata is not the same as monitoring of communications.

3) Smith v. Obama

This case was filed by Anna Smith, a neonatal nurse from Idaho, against the bulk data collection programs of the government. She filed the case against President Barack Obama and many other intelligence agencies under the Patriot Act soon after the government admitted that the NSA was collecting telephone records of millions of American citizens. In 2014, EFF along with ACLU joined the efforts and presented their arguments in front of the court.

4) ACLU v. James Clapper

This lawsuit was originally filed by ACLU against the U.S. federal government and it challenged the legality of NSA’s phone metadata collection program. Although the court dismissed the case in 2013 citing that the collection of metadata did not violate the Fourth Amendment, ACLU appealed against the ruling in the US Court of Appeals. EFF joined the effort in 2014 and filed a brief on behalf of computer scientists arguing that collection of metadata does matter.

In addition to keeping the government and intelligence agencies busy in the courts, EFF was also successful in forcing the government to release many documents, including those related to President George Bush’s “terrorist surveillance program”, that were related to NSA’s spying and surveillance programs. With a string of successes in 2014, EFF is all set to defend privacy and civil liberty in the upcoming year as well.

February 3, 2015

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