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Privacy-Rights Group Petitions Supreme Court Over NSA Surveillance

Monday, 08 Jul 2013 02:09 PM

By Dan Weil


A privacy-rights group planned to file an emergency petition with the Supreme Court Monday to squelch the examination of domestic telephone records by the National Security Agency.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told The New York Times that the "exceptional circumstances" of the NSA program necessitate immediate action from the court.

The center said it can't follow the normal procedure of starting at a lower-court level because only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes the NSA programs.

The non-profit group said in its petition that the FISA court "exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation."

The center is just one of a number of groups that has a filed lawsuit to end the NSA domestic -records-collection program revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. But the center is the first to contest the FISA court's authority to approve phone records-collection under the Patriot Act, center executive director Marc Rotenberg told the Times.

The Patriot Act provision cited by the FISA court states that the records examined must be "relevant" to an authorized national security investigation, Alan Butler, a lawyer for the group, told the newspaper. "It is simply implausible that all call detail records are relevant," he said.

After the NSA's program of domestic wiretapping without warrants was revealed in 2005, numerous lawsuits were waged against the program. They all failed.



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