New class action filed over US warrantless surveillance program
Legal Topics | 2008/09/22 15:44
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday filed a class action lawsuit seeking injunctive, declaratory and equitable relief from the National Security Agency warrantless surveillance program, which gave government agencies access to over 300 terabytes of data concerning communication sent and received by AT&T customers. Filed on behalf of those customers, the suit names as defendants the US government, the NSA, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and several other officials. EFF alleges violations of the First and Fourth Amendments, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and federal electronic surveillance law. The complaint also argues that the surveillance program violated the Federal Administrative Procedure Act because it exceeded Congressionally-mandated limitations established by FISA, and alleges that it violates the Constitutional separation of powers principle
  because it was authorized by the Executive in excess of the Executive’s authority under Article II of the United States Constitution ... and exceeds the statutory limits imposed on the Executive by Congress.
The lawsuit filed Thursday follows an earlier class-action lawsuit filed by EFF against AT&T in January 2006 over the company's participation in the warrantless surveillance program. The most recent lawsuit is aimed at the US government, reflecting the July amendment to FISA which granted retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies participating in the surveillance program. The amendment was signed into law by President Bush on July 10, after the US Senate voted 69-28 to approve the amendment. Earlier that day, the Senate rejected three proposed amendments to the bill that would have limited the immunity. In June, the US House of Representatives passed HR 6304, amending FISA and including the granting of retroactive immunity. The bill also grants the FISA court authority to review a wider range of wiretapping orders, would prohibit the executive branch from overriding the court's authority, and orders the Department of Justice and other agencies to issue a report on the country's use of wiretapping orders.


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