PATRIOT Act Section 215 Litigation:
American Civil Liberties Union v. Clapper. Lawsuit filed June 11, 2013, in the Southern District of New York against the Director of National Intelligence and the heads of four other agencies involved in the collection of telephony metadata. Argues that mass phone call tracking violates Section 215 and the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. National Security Agency. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, on behalf of religious, gun ownership, political, and human rights groups, filed suit in the Northern District of California on July 16, 2013, against the NSA and three other agencies involved in the collection of telephony metadata. The plaintiffs allege that illegal collection of their call records violate the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right of association as well as Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. They claim that the mass collection of telephone records provides the government a more revealing picture of one’s associations than would an organizational membership list.
In re Electronic Privacy Information Center. Mandamus petition to the Supreme Court on July 8, 2013, requesting the Court vacate the FISC order enabling NSA collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records. Contends the FISC exceeded its statutory authority in authorizing the surveillance because the millions of collected telephone records cannot reasonably be “relevant” to an authorized investigation.
Mandamus Petition 
FISA Amendments Act and Related Litigation:
Clapper et al., v. Amnesty International, et al. On July 10, 2008, the day that the FISA Amendments Act was enacted, a group of human rights advocates and journalists filed an action alleging that the Act violated the First and Fourth Amendments, Article III, and the principle of separation of powers. Plaintiffs claimed that their objectively reasonable fear that their communications would be monitored under the authority of the statute and their expenditures associated with preventing such surveillance represented a concrete injury. In February 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the Second Circuit, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing, stating that their alleged injuries were too speculative because they were not “certainly impending.”
Supreme Court Opinion 
Jewel et al. v. National Security Agency. On September 17, 2008, a group of AT&T customers filed a class action lawsuit asserting that mass surveillance by telecoms on behalf of the government is an illegal and unconstitutional program. The customers claimed the program violates the First and Fourth Amendments, separation of powers, FISA, the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. On July 8, 2013 a federal judge rejected the government’s motion to dismiss Jewel and a similar case, Shubert v. Obama, based on the state secrets privilege, ruling that FISA’s procedures for courts’ handling of secret evidence regarding electronic surveillance preempt that common law privilege. A hearing in the district court on how the case should proceed is set for August 23, 2013.
District Court Opinion 
Electronic Frontier Foundation v. Department of Justice. On August 30, 2012, EFF filed a FOIA request for the release of FISC opinions and orders as well as Congressional briefings regarding illegal government surveillance. The DOJ refused to release the documents, citing FISC rules. However, on June 12, 2013, the FISC stated that its rules do not limit the release of the requested documents allowing the EFF to continue its FOIA litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
EFF’s FISC Motion 
FISC opinion 
Google filed a motion with the FISC on June 18, 2013, asserting a First Amendment right to publish both the total number of FISA requests it receives and the total number of users or accounts encompassed in such requests. Google cited a need to respond to misleading media reports affecting their reputation as well as the lack of law or regulation that prohibits such conduct.
On June 19, 2013, Microsoft filed a motion with the FISC seeking permission to disclose aggregate statistics regarding FISA orders and directives. Microsoft argues that any prohibition of disclosure is a content-based restriction on speech and subject to strict scrutiny. The motion alleges that preventing disclosure cannot be narrowly tailored to promote national security interests because aggregate data will not jeopardize the secrecy of any particular order or directive, the government already discloses aggregate FISA surveillance data, and there is significant public interest.
CDT and other civil society organizations led by the First Amendment Coalition filed an amicus brief with the FISC supporting Google and Microsoft’s motions.
Amicus Brief 
In 2008, Yahoo! Refused to comply with a directive issued under the Protect America Act (the predecessor statute to the FISA Amendments Act). The government moved to compel Yahoo! to comply. In response, Yahoo! challenged the directive in the FISC on legal and constitutional grounds. It appealed an adverse decision to the FISA Court of Review (FISCR), which also ruled in favor of the government. In June 2013, Yahoo!, citing disclosures relating to FAA surveillance, filed motions with the FISC and the FISCR seeking disclosure of the opinions issued by each court and the briefs Yahoo! and the government submitted to both courts. The government said it will complete the declassification review of the FISCR briefs and opinions by August 26.
FISC Order 
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Human Rights League of France (LDH) filed a complaint with a Paris Tribunal on July 15, 2013, seeking an investigation into NSA collections of personal data. The complaint aims to expose unrevealed aspects of the programs and asserts that the surveillance violates a number of French privacy laws.
Complaint  (in French)
On July 8, 2013, Privacy International filed a legal complaint with a UK tribunal calling for the immediate suspension of Britain’s use of material collected from PRISM and demanding a temporary injunction to the Tempora program which harvest emails, phone calls, and Skype conversations from undersea cables. The claim states that the collected materials are of a private nature, that the surveillance is not a proportionate response to a legitimate aim, and that the collection does not comply with the requirements of the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers act.
For a more complete list of litigation, go here .
For more information, contact Greg Nojeim, Director of the CDT Project on Freedom, Security & Technology at firstname.lastname@example.org , 202/637-9800.