Time to Rein in the Surveillance State

The government is using provisions of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act to regularly track all of the calls of millions of ordinary Americans and to spy on an unknown number of Americans' international calls and emails. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order published by The Guardian indicates that a Verizon subsidiary is handing over the phone records of all of its customers to the National Security Agency on an ongoing basis. And a newly revealed NSA program—called PRISM—can access data from nine major internet companies, giving the government ready access to our emails, chats, Skype calls, and more.

This unprecedented surveillance strikes at the core of our right to free speech, association, and privacy. On June 10, 2013, the ACLU filed a motion with the FISA Court seeking the release of its secret opinions that enable the mass acquisition of phone records. The next day, we filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the phone tracking program. Read on to learn more about the program and what we're doing to stop it.

VIDEO

What's NSA Surveillance Got To Do With Me? (YouTube.com)

Alex Abdo discusses NSA

The government is using provisions of the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act to regularly track all of the calls of millions of ordinary Americans and to spy on an unknown number of Americans' international calls and emails. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order published by The Guardian indicates that a Verizon subsidiary is handing over the phone records of all of its customers to the National Security Agency on an ongoing basis. And a newly revealed NSA program—called PRISM—can access data from nine major internet companies, giving the government ready access to our emails, chats, Skype calls, and more. Watch here »

BLOGS

You May Have 'Nothing to Hide' But You Still Have Something to Fear

NSA

In the wake of recent news that the NSA is spying on Americans, I have been particularly struck by the argument that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear."...

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Want a Debate on Surveillance? Give Us the Facts First.

NSA

63 companies and organizations — including the ACLU, AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo! — asked the government to allow companies that receive foreign-intelligence surveillance requests to publicly discuss...

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ACLU on the Hill: NSA Surveillance "Intrusive and Unconstitutional"

NSA

To say that the NSA's activities present a grave danger to American democracy is not an overstatement. Thirty-six years ago, after conducting a comprehensive investigation into the intelligence abuses of the previous decades...

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The NSA's Spying On Americans: Not As "Inadvertent" As It Claims

NSA unchained

Another week, another trove of documents detailing the inner secrets of the NSA's massive spying program. Recent revelations have finally provided a look at the procedures that the NSA uses to target and retain communications under the FISA...

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How the NSA's Surveillance Procedures Threaten Americans' Privacy

NSA unchained

Documents obtained by the journalist Glenn Greenwald and released yesterday by The Guardian show how the National Security Agency has implemented the FISA Amendments Act, a 2008 law that substantially expanded the government's surveillance authority."...
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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging NSA's Patriot Act Phone Surveillance

Surveillance Under the Patriot Act

In the wake of the past week's revelations about the NSA's unprecedented mass surveillance of phone calls, today the ACLU filed a lawsuit charging that the program violates Americans' constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy...
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Under the FISA Amendments Act, Your Calls and Emails Can't Be "Targeted," But They Can Certainly Be Collected

In recent days, government officials have lined up to assuage Americans' fears about the government's extraordinary surveillance powers under the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) by assuring them that—as President Obama himself told Charlie Rose on Monday night—the statute "does not apply to any U.S. person"...
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The PATRIOT Act's Section 215 Must be Reformed

Last week, the Guardian reported something extraordinary. The National Security Agency is routinely collecting all of your phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. They know who calls whom, when, for how long and from where. There's no more debate about whether the government is spying on Americans; the only question is how we can stop it...
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Flashback: Biden Agrees Access to Metadata Is 'Very, Very Intrusive' (VIDEO)

In the wake of revelations that the Obama administration is tracking virtually every single phone call of every single American, the administration has trotted out an unsurprising defense: we're not listening to your phone calls, just snatching the metadata...
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ACLU Seeks Secret Court Opinions Authorizing NSA's Mass Acquisition of Americans' Phone Records

The ACLU and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic filed a motion today with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), seeking the release of secret court opinions that permit the government to acquire Americans' phone records en masse...
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Checks, Balances, and the National Security Agency

Over the course of three days, the usually invisible National Security Agency has become ostentatiously visible and many Americans do not like what they see. In an effort to address the widely shared feeling that our vaunted system of checks and balances has utterly failed us, President Obama reassured the public Friday that the now-exposed spy programs were sanctioned by "all three branches of government." Is that true? Yes and no...
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A Step Towards Surveillance Transparency

When Google published its first government transparency report in 2010, critics of the company showered praise upon the company, and rightly so. At a time when other internet companies were fearful...
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Why Government Access to Metadata is More Than a 'Modest Encroachment' on Privacy

Metadata is back in the news, following The Guardian's extraordinary revelation on Wednesday revealing that the National Security Agency has been secretly scooping up the phone records of millions of Americans...
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TAKE ACTION

Stop The Massive Government Spying Program

The NSA Unchained

A leaked court document obtained by The Guardian, and since reported on by numerous news outlets, has exposed that the government is spying on Americans. Using the Patriot Act, the U.S. government has been secretly tracking the calls of every Verizon Business Network Services customer—to whom they spoke, from where, and for how long—for the past 41 days.
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INTERACTIVES

Misdirection: The House Intelligence Committee's Misleading Patriot Act Talking Points

The Misleading Patriot Act


NSA Surveillance Order Explained by the ACLU

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order released yesterday by The Guardian reveals that the U.S. government is regularly tracking the phone calls of potentially millions of Americans.
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NEWSROOM

Civil Liberties Groups Ask Secret Court to Let Google & Microsoft Release NSA Spying Stats

Civil liberties groups filed a brief late yesterday in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court arguing that Google and Microsoft must be ungagged so they can describe their role in the government's surveillance of the internet. The brief supports motions filed previously by Google and Microsoft requesting orders freeing them to publish information, in aggregate form, about the extent of the government's court-authorized access...
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ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of NSA Phone Spying Program

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a constitutional challenge to a surveillance program under which the National Security Agency vacuums up information about every phone call placed within, from, or to the United States. The lawsuit argues that the program violates the First Amendment rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment...
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ACLU Asks Spy Court to Release Secret Opinions on Patriot Act Surveillance Powers

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of the Nation's Capital, and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic filed a motion today with the secret court that oversees government surveillance in national security cases, requesting that it publish its opinions on the meaning, scope, and constitutionality of Section 215 of the Patriot Act...
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NSA Can Access Much of Americans' Digital Lives

The government has the ability to secretly tap into a wide range of Americans' online activities, according to reports in The Washington Post and The Guardian...
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Massive NSA Phone Data-Mining Operation Revealed

Using the Patriot Act, the U.S. government has been secretly tracking the calls of every Verizon Business Network Services customer – whom they talked to, from where, and for how long – for the past 41 days, according to a report published by The Guardian...
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SUPREME COURT CASE

Amnesty et al. v. Clapper: FISA Amendments Act Challenge

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), enacted by Congress after the abuses of the 1960s and 70s, regulates the government's conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. It generally requires the government to seek warrants before monitoring Americans' communications...
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MOTIONS AND FOIA REQUESTS

Section 215 of the Patriot Act - FOIA

Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the government to obtain "any tangible thing" relevant to a terrorism investigation, even if there is no showing that the "thing" pertains to suspected terrorists or terrorist activities. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure, which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy...
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ACLU and 85 Other Companies and Organizations Call for Congress to End NSA Surveillance of Innocent Americans


ACLU Motion in FISA Court for Release of Court Records - In Re Orders Issued by This Court Interpreting Section 215 of the Patriot Act

INFOGRAPHIC

The NSA Unchained [Infographic]

The NSA Unchained

LAST UPDATED: 02/29/2013 - In November 2001, the National Security Agency began illegally intercepting Americans' phone calls and emails without warrants or suspicion of wrongdoing. In 2008, Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), rubber-stamping this warrantless wiretapping program and giving the NSA power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans' international communications.
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