Judge Asks for More Information About NSA Spying Evidence Destruction After Emergency Hearing
San Francisco - A federal judge asked for more briefing today after an emergency court hearing over destruction in a case challenging NSA spying from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"We are pleased the court is receptive to our arguments – that this is the information that court ordered the government to retain, and is an important element of our litigation," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "It's unfortunate that the court's order today allows the government to continue destroying evidence that the government itself insists we need, but we are looking forward to giving the judge all the information he needs to come to a final decision."
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking evidence destruction in March. But yesterday afternoon, EFF filed an emergency motion, explaining that communications with government lawyers over the last week had revealed that the government has continued to destroy evidence relating to the mass interception of Internet communications it is conducting under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Today, Judge White called an emergency hearing, where the government argued that preserving the surveillance data gathered under Section 702 would be gravely harmful to national security programs. While the TRO remains in effect, that Judge White ruled that the government nevertheless did not need to preserve data collected pursuant to Section 702 until the court makes a further ruling on the issue.
EFF has been litigating against illegal NSA surveillance for more than eight years. Jewel v. NSA is a case brought on behalf of AT&T customers who were subject to unconstitutional NSA spying. In First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA, EFF represents 22 groups whose First Amendment rights to association are violated by the NSA program. EFF also filed one of the first lawsuits against the surveillance program back in 2006, Hepting v. AT&T.
For more on Jewel v. NSA:
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Electronic Frontier Foundation