Washington, D.C. - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the Department of Justice (DOJ), demanding records on three controversial PATRIOT Act surveillance provisions that expire early next year unless Congress renews them.
EFF is seeking the immediate release of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports on the provisions' effectiveness, lawfulness, and potential misuse in a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These controversial PATRIOT provisions give the FBI expanded powers to seize electronic records and property and to wiretap phone conversations, and are set to expire in February of 2011. Congress will likely begin debate on potentially reauthorizing the provisions before the end of the year.
"The PATRIOT Act provisions have faced criticism from both Congress and the general public for the lack of privacy safeguards for ordinary Americans who might mistakenly be caught in overbroad FBI surveillance," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The records we are seeking here -- how well the law works, and how it may have been misused -- should be an integral part of the decisions made on how to reform the law."
EFF filed its FOIA request with the DOJ in September of 2009, when initial discussions about reauthorization were beginning in Congress. The FBI initially approved EFF's request for expedited processing, but has not yet disclosed any records. EFF filed its lawsuit today in order to ensure the information is released in time to inform the upcoming congressional debate.
"If the FBI continues to withhold these records, Americans won't have the information they need to make important decisions about reforming the PATRIOT Act," said Sobel. "The DOJ needs to follow the law and release its reports to the public."
For the full complaint:
Electronic Frontier Foundation