Jewel v. NSA: Making Sense of a Disappointing Decision Over Mass Surveillance

by David Greene,  Electronic Frontier Foundation

Yesterday marked a frustrating juncture in EFF’s long-running lawsuit against mass surveillance, Jewel v. NSA, filed on behalf of AT&T customers whose communications and telephone records are being vacuumed by the National Security Agency. 

A federal court in San Francisco sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, ruling that the plaintiffs could not win a significant portion of the case—a Fourth Amendment challenge to the NSA’s tapping of the Internet backbone—without disclosure of classified information that would harm national security. In other words, Judge Jeffrey White found that “state secrets” can trump the judicial process and held that EFF’s clients could not prove they have standing.

To be perfectly clear: this decision does not end EFF’s case. The judge did not find that it is legal for the NSA to tap into the Internet backbone. Nor does the ruling apply to the portion of case that covers the NSA’s capture of telephone records on a massive scale. EFF will continue to fight in court, both in Jewel, as well as our two other ongoing lawsuits challenging NSA surveillance. Read the entire story.

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