Part of the goal of the USA Freedom Act was to end secret law. Section 402 of USA Freedom requires the federal government to declassify and release all "significant" opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)—the federal court that reviews the legality of many of the government's national security surveillance programs. Nevertheless, over a year after USA Freedom's enactment, the government has not released, pursuant to the new law's requirements, a single FISC opinion authored before June 2015.
In March 2016, we filed a FOIA request for those still-classified opinions. And in April 2016, we filed suit. The lawsuit seeks to force the government to declassify and publicly release all significant FISC opinions—no matter when they were written—as the law requires.
In addition to this request, EFF also filed suit to obtain any order from the FISC requiring third parties—like Apple or Google—to provide technical assistance to carry out surveillance. EFF filed its request amid increasing government pressure on technology companies to provide access to customers’ devices and encrypted communications for investigations. Although the FBI has sought orders from public federal courts to create a backdoor to an iPhone, it is unclear to what extent the government has sought or obtained similar orders from the FISC. EFF's lawsuit seeks access to those orders.