We won a groundbreaking legal victory late Friday in our Jewel v. NSA case, which challenges the NSA’s Internet and telephone surveillance. Judge Jeffrey White has authorized EFF, on behalf of the plaintiffs, to conduct discovery against the NSA. We had been barred from doing so since the case was filed in 2008, which meant that the government was able to prevent us from requesting important information about how these programs worked.
This marks the first time a party has been allowed to gather factual evidence from the NSA in a case involving the agency’s warrantless surveillance. The government had fought all our requests to proceed with this lawsuit, arguing that the state secrets privilege protects it against both discovery and liability. Judge White previously rejected that argument for our statutory claims under the Wiretap Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and the Stored Communications Act. This ruling affirms Judge White’s previous decision and opens the door for discovery.
This is an important step forward to lifting the cloak of secrecy that has thus far shielded the NSA from judicial scrutiny, and EFF looks forward to finally getting to the nuts and bolts of this extraordinarily important lawsuit.