ACLU challenges NSA surveillance measures

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed suit (PDF) June 11 against the National Security Agency (NSA) challenging its recently revealed phone data collection. As a Verizon business network services customer, the ACLU argues that the program violates the rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy as protected by the First and Fourth Amendments. The complaint also charges that the program oversteps Congress' authority as outlined in the Patriot Ac. On June 10, the ACLU DC affiliate and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, filed a motion (PDF) with the secret surveillance court that issued the order allowing the data collection. They requested that the court provide a statutory basis of its recent controversial decisions to permit collection of civilians' personal data from private communication companies.

Although the president and top official have defended the surveillance as a lawful counterterrorism measure, several US lawmakers have called for a review of the government's surveillance activity in light of recent reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring. Lawmakers have also called for a criminal investigation into the activities of Edward Snowden, who came forward as the whistleblower in the NSA surveillance scandal. Snowden is a 29-year-old former CIA technical worker that accessed the surveillance files when he was contracted as a civilian to work on projects for the NSA. He stated in an interview with The Guardian that he released the material because he believed the surveillance violated the right to privacy. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called for the arrest of Snowden, who is now seeking asylum and is allegedly missing in Hong Kong.

From Jurist, June 11. Used with permission.