On Friday, privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are attempting a new strategy in their six-year-old lawsuit against the National Security Agency. Filed in 2008, Jewel v. NSA is a suit calling for the end of the surveillance of millions of AT&T customers' internet traffic and emails. Despite evidence provided by an AT&T whistle-blower, the US district court, under pressure from the federal government defendants, has delayed and avoided judgment, suggesting that the case raises issues too secret for the federal courts even to rule upon and too important for national security to shut down anyway.
Now the EFF is asking the judge to simply rule that there is a current violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects US citizens from illegal search and seizure, without deciding what that means for the future of the program.
The specifics of the allegation are complicated (computers are hard!), which, of course, is a boon for the powers that be in Washington. But the EFF's new dumbed-down strategy could be exactly what opponents of unlimited, unaccountable surveillance need for a breakthrough.