EFF and EarthRights International (ERI) are fighting to quash subpoenas issued by Chevron Corporation to three email providers (Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft) demanding identifying information about the users of more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys. The information Chevron wants could be used to create a detailed map of the individuals' locations and associations over nearly a decade.
The subpoenas are the latest salvo in the long-running battle over damage caused by oil drilling in Ecuador. After years of litigation, an Ecuadorian court last year imposed a judgment of over $17 billion on Chevron for dumping toxic waste into Amazon waterways and causing massive harm to the rainforest. Instead of paying, Chevron sued almost 50 people who were involved in the Ecuador lawsuit, claiming they were part of a conspiracy to defraud the oil giant. None of the individuals represented by EFF and ERI has been sued by Chevron or accused of wrongdoing.
In late 2012, EFF and ERI moved to quash the three subpoenas, arguing that the subpoenas are not only wildly overbroad, but they infringe our clients' First Amendment rights to anonymous speech and free association, as well as their California constitutional right to privacy.
Courts in New York and California each granted in part and denied in part EFF's motions to quash in the summer of 2013. EFF filed appeals in the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. Both appeals are still pending.