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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
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4th Amendment Fight|Against NSA Continues

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - The National Security Agency illegally searches and seizes Americans' Internet communications, class plaintiffs continue to argue in Federal Court.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the high-profile domestic spying case Jewel v. NSA in 2008, submitted a brief Oct. 24 responding to the government's opposition to a motion for partial summary judgment in September. The privacy advocacy group also filed a motion the same day to strike a secret brief filed by the government.

In its new brief, the EFF strikes back against what it calls on its website "the government's various attempts at constitutional circumvention."

The EFF has argued that the government, by tapping fiber-optic cables of telecommunications companies and copying the data stream without a warrant, violates the Fourth Amendment.

The government claims it cannot disclose how its data collection program - known as "Upstream" - works, on national security grounds.

It's partially on those grounds that the government sought dismissal of the EFF's claims.

The Jewel case stems from a 2006 revelation by a former AT&T technician that the company was routing copies of emails, Web browsing data and other Internet information to a secret NSA-controlled location in San Francisco.

The EFF claims in its new brief that tapping into fiber-optic cables is a seizure, even if the government does not physically take something, such as a hard drive.

It also claims that using a computer program to scan for data is a constitutional breach, because Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy in online communication.

In filing its motion to strike the government's secret brief, the EFF claims that allowing the government to make a secret legal argument without letting plaintiffs respond would be "an extraordinary violation of due process," the EFF said on its website.

The case is due for oral arguments on Dec. 19 in Oakland before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White.

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