Back to News & Commentary

Second Lawsuit Filed to Try to Stop the Spying

Share This Page
September 22, 2008

Lawsuit #2 against the government’s warrantless spy program dropped last Wednesday. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed the suit (as they promised they would at Netroots). Threat Level reports:

The suit argues the spying violated federal wiretap law, the First Amendment’s guarantee of anonymous speech and the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches.

For us spy nerds, a clarification: The EFF’s lawsuit differs from the ACLU’s lawsuit in that our lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). (Check out the details of our lawsuit, in handy bulleted form, in this blog post.) The EFF is challenging the constitutionality of the warrantless surveillance program the President authorized soon after 9/11; a program EFF alleges continues to this day. Specifically, the dragnet surveillance defined in the lawsuit’s complaint (PDF):

This case challenges an illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency…and other Defendants in concert with major telecommunications companies…first authorized by Executive Order of the President in October of 2001…and first revealed to the public in December of 2005…

Got that? The complaint goes on for another 55 pages, but that’s it in a nutshell. A tiny nutshell.

Now, don’t forget Hepting v. AT&T, the big-daddy of telco lawsuits that’s still pending before Judge Vaughn Walker in the Northern District of California. (You’ll remember that the 9th Circuit punted Hepting back to district court after the FAA was signed into law.) Well, as expected, the government filed a motion to dismiss Hepting on Friday, on the grounds that the FAA retroactively granted the telecoms immunity for participating in the illegal spying program.

The EFF, along with Ann Brick of the ACLU of Northern California and Harvey Grossman of the ACLU of Illinois, will challenge this motion to dismiss on December 2, 2008. And if the attendance at last August’s hearing in this case is any indication, you should start lining up outside the courthouse right…about…now.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page