Can the Supreme Court Stop the NSA from Spying on Phone Records?

05 November 2013 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The NSA is arguing to the Supreme Court that the collection of telephone records may not be challenged because the Patriot Act precludes challenges in the name of national security.  On October 28, 2013 EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) filed a brief at the Supreme Court asking the Supreme Court to stop Verizon from routing all telephone records to the NSA.  EPIC asserts that the US government is wrong in claiming that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) can order “…the disclosure of all the telephone call records of all Americans” without any court challenge:

The telephone records that the Government has obtained pursuant to the FISC Order reveal detailed information about the private lives of Americans and cannot reasonably be said to be related to a foreign intelligence collection purpose. 

EPIC also argues that:

The telephone records of EPIC and every other American whose calls are routed by Verizon Business Network Services (“Verizon”) are now routinely collected by the National Security Agency.

None of those orders have been subject to appellate review by the FISC-R or this Court.

These telephone records are unique and identifiable, and reveal a great deal of private information about millions of telephone users.

In no instance has the Government established any individualized suspicion to support the collection of this information. 

It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court rules on this challenge of the NSA and FISC to capture telephone records that are not related to foreign intelligence.

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