The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of a Minnesota novelty marketeer, Dan McCall, whose website sells items lampooning government, The Hill reported.
sells "freedom products for liberty lovers."
In 2011, the NSA cautioned McCall's supplier, Zazzle.com, that it was illegal to make use of the NSA's official emblem and name. DHS, alluding to possible criminal violations, objected to the use of its seal with the words "Department of Homeland Stupidity."
McCall removed the items from his website and took the matter to Public Citizen, which filed suit against the NSA and DHS in October 2013. Lawyers argued that McCall's shirts, hats, and bumper stickers would not be mistaken for the real thing and that the sale of such merchandise was protected by the First Amendment.
As a result of the settlement
, the agencies have consented that McCall is doing nothing illegal.
"This is an important win," said Public Citizen attorney Paul Levy. "Citizens shouldn't have to worry whether criticizing government agencies will get them in trouble or not. This settlement proves the First Amendment is there to protect citizens' rights to free speech."
McCall's inventory includes novelty mugs embossed with the NSA's official seal and the words "Spying On You Since 1952" and shirts stamped with the NSA logo and the words, "The only part of government that actually listens," The Washington Post
The NSA and DHS have agreed to pay McCall's $500 in legal fees.
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