Category Archives: Privacy

Did Carly Fiorina Disclose Classified Information When Revealing Her Ties to the NSA?

In a recent interview, GOP presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina revealed her connection to the NSA and in doing so, she may have disclosed classified information about the launch of the agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.

Fiorina recently said that she redirected trucks of HP servers from retail stores to the NSA’s headquarters after receiving a call from former NSA director Michael Hayden shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, asking her to “quickly provide his agency with HP computer servers for expanded surveillance.”

[RELATED: Carly Fiorina Defends CIA Torture, Handed HP Servers to NSA]

Hayden confirmed the request, and said that the HP servers were used to implement STELLARWIND, the controversial warrantless wiretapping program that is used to collect Americans’ bulk phone records.

Fiorina’s involvement with the NSA was not widely known prior to her interview with Yahoo News in September, and VICE’s Motherboard suggested that this may be due to the fact that the information Fiorina shared was classified.

Paul Dietrich, an activist and independent researcher, noted on Twitter that Fiorina’s claim is backed up in an NSA Inspector General report on STELLARWIND that was leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

The report refers to an order of 50 “computer servers to store and process data acquired under the new authority,” and in a footnote it says that “because of the heightened terrorist threat,” a vendor “diverted a shipment of servers intended for other recipients” to the NSA on Oct. 13, 2001.

Although the report was partially classified by the NSA in April, the page that referenced the transfer of the computer servers remained blacked out, suggesting that the information it contains is still considered classified.

While the report does not exclusively name HP as the company that sent the servers, Dietrich told Motherboard that this was because the NSA “REALLY HATES talking about corporate relationships.”

The NSA has yet to confirm whether Fiorina leaked classified information when revealing her company’s ties to the implementation of STELLARWIND.

In May, Fiorina told CNN that she has little sympathy for Edward Snowden, who is known for leaking documents that revealed the U.S. government is spying on innocent Americans and collecting their phone records.

“I think Edward Snowden has been terribly destructive,” Fiorina said. “He has been less than forthcoming. It was a very slanted portrayal about what the NSA does, and he knows it.”

For more election coverage, click here.

Report: Secret Service Violated Privacy Law To Shame Lawmaker

The Secret Service issued an apology to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Wednesday after a report revealed that an assistant director suggested the agency release sensitive personal information about Chaffetz, a prominent critic.

The report from the Office of the Inspector General confirmed that Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote an email to another director on March 31, saying that “some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out.”

A story was then published on April 2 which revealed that Chaffetz had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected. That information was part of a personnel file “stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private,” according to the Washington Post.

Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who is responsible for overseeing the Secret Service, has a history of pursuing allegations of Secret Service misconduct. In March, he criticized the agency for deleting video surveillance that could have contained answers about a car crash near the White House involving two Secret Service agents.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement saying that he first asked the department’s Inspector General to “investigate reports of improper access and distribution of information by U.S. Secret Service employees” pertaining to Chaffetz in April.

“The Inspector General has recently completed his investigation, and has found a number of instances of inappropriate conduct by Secret Service personnel,” Johnson said. “At the time, I stated that if the allegations were true, those responsible should be held accountable, and I reiterate that today.”

Johnson concluded the statement saying that he reiterates the apology he issued to Chaffetz in April. “Activities like those described in the report must not, and will not, be tolerated,” he said.

In response, Chaffetz said that he believes the release of information was “a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me.”

“If they would do this to me, I just, I shuddered to think what they might be doing to other people,” Chaffetz told NBC News. “I’d like to tell you how tough I am, but it’s scary, and it’s intimidating, and I will continue to investigate the Secret Service and others, but this should have never ever happened.”

Chaffetz also said that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue, and that he remains “undeterred in conducting proper and rigorous oversight.”

George Pataki Calls for Twitter CEO to Shut Down Edward Snowden’s Account

Former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden joined Twitter on Tuesday, and in addition to gaining 1 million followers in less than 24 hours after he posted his first tweet, his presence was openly criticized by one presidential hopeful who asked Twitter’s co-founder to shut down Snowden’s account.

GOP candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki responded to Snowden’s first Tweet, which said, “Can you hear me now?” with criticism, calling Snowden a “traitor who put American lives at risk.”



Snowden is known for leaking documents which revealed that the U.S. government is spying on innocent Americans and collecting their phone records using the NSA’s mass surveillance program, which was once a guarded secret before Snowden’s actions exposed the agency.

[RELATED: Dishonesty, Deceptiveness, and Disservice – Why Snowden Chose to Become a Whistleblower]

Since the documents were published in June 2013, Snowden has yet to return to the United States and is currently in an undisclosed location in Russia. If and when he returns to the U.S., he will face felony charges of theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.”

In addition to retweeting comments from Twitter users who agreed with his original statement, Pataki posted a second tweet addressing Snowden, this time calling on Twitter co-founder and interim CEO Jack Dorsey to shut down Snowden’s account.

Dorsey did not respond to Pataki on Tuesday, but he did respond earlier to Snowden’s initial tweet, welcoming him to Twitter.

Dorsey also retweeted a tweet from Snowden, which addressed the label of “traitor.” The word was mentioned in each of the Tweets Pataki posted that referenced Snowden.

Pataki’s final tweet mentioning Snowden was in response to a user who said that a “great American company gives voices a chance to speak, not silences them.”

Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who published documents leaked by Snowden in the The Guardian in 2013, chimed in on Twitter with posts that appeared to be aimed at Pataki’s comments.

After posting his first Tweet on Tuesday morning, Snowden gained 1 million followers in less than 24 hours. Greenwald noted that this was over 10 times more than Pataki, who currently has about 53,300.

Snowden also gained attention for following only one account on Twitter: the NSA. In addition to greatly surpassing Pataki in number of followers, Snowden also surpassed the NSA, which has less than 100,000.

Carly Fiorina Defends CIA Torture, Handed HP Servers To NSA

GOP presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina defended the torture tactics used by the CIA in the aftermath of 9/11, and revealed her direct involvement in aiding the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ data.

In an interview with Yahoo News published on Monday, Fiorina insisted that the methods of torture used by the CIA to attempt to extract information from suspected Al-Qaeda operatives after 9/11, such as waterboarding, helped “keep our nation safe.”

“I believe that all of the evidence is very clear — that waterboarding was used in a very small handful of cases [and] was supervised by medical personnel in every one of those cases,” Fiorina said. “And I also believe that waterboarding was used when there was no other way to get information that was necessary.”

[RELATED: Report Claims Medical Professionals In CIA Torture Program May Have Committed War Crimes]

heavily redacted summary of the Senate report on the torture methods, or “enhanced interrogation tactics,” was released in December 2014, and found that the program was abused and mishandled by the CIA.

The report claimed that the CIA misled government officials on the level of brutality being used in its torture program, and the effectiveness of the techniques used.

[RELATED: Senate Torture Report Bombshell: CIA Lied to Lawmakers, Used Techniques More Brutal Than Claimed]

Fiorina also said that she had received a phone call from former NSA director Michael Hayden shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, asking her to “quickly provide his agency with HP computer servers for expanded surveillance.”

[RELATED: Former NSA Director Heckled For Calling Himself A ‘Libertarian’]

Hayden told Yahoo News that he used the HP servers to implement Stellar Wind, “the controversial warrantless wiretapping program, including the bulk collection of American citizens’ phone records and emails, that had been secretly ordered by the Bush White House.”

“I felt it was my duty to help, and so we did,” said Fiorina, confirming that she redirected a truck of HP servers from retail stores to the NSA’s headquarters.

“They were ramping up a whole set of programs and needed a lot of data crunching capability to try and monitor a whole set of threats,” Fiorina said. “What I knew at the time was our nation had been attacked.”

Fiorina also said that she has advised the NSA and the CIA to be “transparent as possible about as much as possible,” and that while she supports checks and balances, she is “not aware of circumstances” in which NSA surveillance “went too far” in its collection of Americans’ data.

Fiorina noted that she had once made a recommendation that former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief Jose Rodriguez, who was subjected to a criminal investigation after directing the destruction of videotapes showing waterboarding of detainees, should become a spokesman for the CIA. According to Yahoo News, Rodriguez was “very impressed with her then — and now.”

For more election coverage, click here.

New Hampshire Library Victorious In Internet Privacy Debate

Lebanon, New Hampshire- The Lebanon Library Board of Trustees upheld their decision to continue running a Tor node at the Kilton Library at its meeting Tuesday night, and the node was turned back on shortly after the meeting. Controversy surrounding the node and the library’s support of Tor, stemming from an email sent by the Department of Homeland Security to local law enforcement, led to a temporary shutdown of the node.

The board’s decision to ultimately keep the node turned on was made after several area residents expressed their views on the importance of Tor and internet privacy and vocalized praise for the library’s Tor support.

During the board meeting, ACLU of New Hampshire executive director Devon Chaffee explained how Tor is used. The Tor browser “is a piece of software, free and open source, that helps people protect their privacy and anonymity online by obscuring personally identifiable information,” she said. Tor accomplishes this by bouncing traffic off of a network of relay nodes, which was what Kilton was asked to run.

In June, the trustees voted to allow Kilton Library to run one of these nodes. The nodes serve as an important function to allow Tor users to preserve their anonymity. The Kilton Library, with the help of the Library Freedom Project (LFP), became the first public library in the United States to offer a relay node.

Kilton’s running of the node was part of a larger initiative to encourage libraries nationwide to support Tor and relay nodes as a “powerful symbolic gesture demonstrating our commitment to a free internet, but also a practical way to help the Tor network, and an excellent opportunity to help educate our patrons, staff, boards of trustees, and other stakeholders about the importance of Tor.”

Kilton Library was chosen partly because of steps that the library had already made to protect patron privacy. According to LFP, Kilton IT librarian Chuck McAndrew runs the library computers on GNU/Linux distributions. “Most library environments run Microsoft Windows, and we know that Microsoft participated in the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program. By choosing GNU/Linux operating systems and installing some privacy-protecting browser extensions too, Chuck’s helping his staff and patrons opt-out of pervasive government and corporate surveillance.”

Just over a month passed before an agent at the Department of Homeland Security in Boston discovered Kilton Library’s support of Tor. DHS notified the Lebanon Police Department of the project, and a meeting between city officials, the board of library trustees and law enforcement was held to discuss the risks of running a node.

[RELATED: NH Library Suspends Tor Support Following Email From DHS]

Law enforcement and Lebanon Deputy City Manager Paula Maville made comments regarding the possibility of criminal exploitation of Tor. The library decided to pause the pilot project and hold another meeting to decide whether or not to turn it back on or keep it off.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, a rally was held outside of Lebanon Public Library where activists held signs cheering Kilton’s support of Tor while rebuking DHS’s involvement. Lynette Johnson, a former librarian, told Truth In Media’s Annabelle Bamforth at the rally that “librarians really think about [protecting patron privacy] almost like a doctor-patient confidentiality.”

Public comment consisted almost entirely of support for Kilton Library’s relay node. The first person to speak, an elderly man named Lloyd, said that he worked for the government in the past and urged that DHS be kept as far away from Tor as possible.

Another man, a resident of Orange, New Hampshire who identified himself as an employee in the information technology field for several years, pointed out that U.S. intelligence agencies have more tools than ever before to gather information and opined that the debate should not be around whether or not the government has a harder time catching criminals, but around whether or not a relay node is a proper library function.

A woman born in Colombia spoke up passionately in support of privacy and freedom of speech, describing her previous job as a social worker in Colombia amidst violent conflict and explaining that she had seen many atrocities. “Freedom of speech isn’t part of their democracy there,” she said.

One after another, area residents shared their thoughts on the importance of internet privacy and why tools such as Tor should be embraced and not subjected to blind fear.

Following public comment, the board acknowledged that Tor could be exploited by criminal operations, but not any more than other online tools. The board made a decision to turn the node back on and maintain their original vote to support Tor by hosting the node.

Following the decision, Bamforth interviewed LFP’s Alison Macrina and Tor Project’s Nima Fatemi- who helped introduce the node to Kilton Library and have provided education about online privacy tools- about the library’s decision.

“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Macrina said following the meeting. “This is a public referendum about privacy and free speech, and I couldn’t think of a better place to have it happen. There was a reason why we chose Kilton as our pilot project. We knew that New Hampshire, the Live Free Or Die state, was the right place for this. This is the best thing that could have happened. The whole world came out in favor of Kilton doing the right thing, which they’ve just done, and it’s no better demonstrated than by the response of the community which was just overwhelming- I was crying, especially when the woman from Colombia spoke.”

“We actually made a joke, Libe Free or Die,” added Fatemi, a Tor Project member and partner in the LFP’s relay node project. “We’re definitely overwhelmed by the support of the community. It’s unbelievable, I was basically speechless.”

Fatemi noted that “what happened with the police department and DHS was a huge case of miseducation. Part of the reason we picked libraries because libraries are central to the communities. If we help give them enough resources, then they can teach, educate the communities around them- including law enforcement.”

This article has been updated to properly identify that a relay node is running at Kilton, not an exit relay.

NH Library Suspends Tor Support Following Email From DHS

A small public library in New Hampshire has recently become the backdrop of a conflict brewing between internet privacy advocates and law enforcement, as city officials and police have taken aim at a project providing privacy-protecting measures to public libraries.

The Kilton Public Library, located in Lebanon, New Hampshire, became the first library in the United States to offer a relay node for Tor, an anonymous internet browsing service.

“The library allowed Tor users around the world to bounce their Internet traffic through the library, thus masking users’ locations,” according to ProPublica.

The Concord Monitor reported that Kilton Library did not offer the Tor browser, but it was “was using a portion of its infrastructure to handle traffic for Tor.”

The introduction of the Tor relay node at Kilton Library, which was announced in late July, was part of a larger initiative launched by the Library Freedom Project (LFP). LFP, based in Boston, advocates for a “privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries” by working with librarians across the United States and providing them with information about “surveillance threats, privacy rights and responsibilities, and digital tools to stop surveillance.”

One of these digital tools is the relay node, which allows Tor users to preserve their anonymity. LFP is striving to provide relays to libraries nationwide. Currently, there are about 1,000 Tor relay nodes around the world.

LFP’s Alison Macrina visited Kilton Library in the spring and offered a privacy training session. After receiving approval from the library board, she also assisted the library in establishing a Tor relay node.

A little more than a month passed before a special agent within a Department of Homeland Security office in Boston caught wind of LFP’s progress and relayed it to New Hampshire law enforcement. The information was then given to a sergeant at the Lebanon Police Department.

According to ProPublica, DHS spokesman Shawn Neudauer said the DHS agent was offering “visibility/situational awareness” to the proper authorities.

A meeting occured soon after the DHS alert, and police and city officials discussed the possibility that Tor could be abused by criminals.

Lebanon Police Lt. Matthew Isham, expressing worry over Kilton’s new Tor service, said that “for all the good that a Tor may allow as far as speech, there is also the criminal side that would take advantage of that as well,” and “we felt we needed to make the city aware of it.”

Lebanon Deputy City Manager Paula Maville echoed Isham’s concerns and said that Tor’s potential association with criminal operations resulted in “concern from a public relations perspective and we wanted to get those concerns on the table.”

Following the meeting, the library agreed to put Kilton’s the project on hold. “We really weren’t anticipating that there would be any controversy at all,” said Lebanon Public Libraries director Sean Fleming.

“Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses. Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization,” explains Tor Project’s overview of the service.

The decision to pause the relay node precedes a scheduled Sept. 15 meeting, where the library board of trustees will vote on whether or not to continue the service. Local activists have organized a rally, scheduled before the meeting, to show support for Kilton Library’s staff and to call attention to the issue of internet privacy and preserving free speech online.

Justice Department Will Require Warrants For Some Cellphone Tracking Technology

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it will now require U.S. prosecutors and some federal law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant in order to use cellphone tracking technology.

In a statement, the DoJ said that the new policy “goes into effect immediately” and will “provide department components with standard guidance for the use of cell-site simulators in the department’s domestic criminal investigations,” and “establish new management controls for the use of the technology.”

Before the change in policy, U.S. government agencies were permitted to use cell-site simulators or “stingray” devices to replicate phone towers in order to track a phone’s location without applying for a warrant or giving probable cause.

[RELATED: A Guide To Stingray Cellphone Surveillance Technology]

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates claimed that the stingray devices have been “instrumental in aiding law enforcement in a broad array of investigations, including kidnappings, fugitive investigations and complicated narcotics cases.”  

“This new policy ensures our protocols for this technology are consistent, well-managed and respectful of individuals’ privacy and civil liberties,” Yates said.

[RELATED: Newly Released ‘Stingray’ Manual Shows Company Asked FCC For Secrecy]

The DoJ stated that the new policy will establish a set of required practices for dealing with the data collected by the cell-site simulators, which includes deleting all data from a device “as soon as that device is located, and no less than once daily.”

The policy also lays out guidelines for the type of content that may be collected, and it prohibits the collection “contents of any communication in the course of criminal investigations,” such as emails, texts, contact information and pictures.

[RELATED: Chicago, L.A. Police Using ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Capable Of Breaking Encryption]

Cell-site simulator devices have been criticized by privacy advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union for the frequency in which they are used by law enforcement, the amount of data they pick up on innocent bystanders, and the secrecy surrounding their use.

Reuters noted that the new policy does not apply to agencies outside of the DoJ, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

Federal Judge Pushes To Revive Fight Against NSA Surveillance

A federal judge expressed interest in advancing a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon laid out a strategy on Wednesday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit lifted his December 2013 injunction blocking the NSA program on Friday.

[RELATED: Federal Court Rules To Uphold Bulk Spying]

The NSA’s massive surveillance program, which collects Americans’ phone records, was ruled illegal in May by a federal appeals court, on the basis that the NSA’s broad collection “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.”

During a hearing on Wednesday, Leon encouraged conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, who initially brought the suit against the NSA, to amend his case to include customers of Verizon Business Network Services as well as ask a federal appeals court to dismiss an appeal on the case. Leon also noted the past ruling in which the appeals court found the NSA’s program illegal.

[quote_center]“This court has ruled. This court believes that tens of millions of Americans’ constitutional rights have been — and are being — violated,” Leon said. “If the court finds jurisdiction, I don’t have to write another opinion on the merits… It is written.”[/quote_center]

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was used to justify the NSA’s data collection, expired on June 1, and after debate as to whether the U.S. government should have any kind of surveillance program collecting data from innocent Americans, it was replaced by the USA Freedom Act.

Although the USA Freedom Act was presented as a law that would end the NSA’s data collection by putting bulk records into the hands of telephone companies, the Department of Justice filed a request asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to continue the NSA’s collection for six months.

[RELATED: DoJ Asks Surveillance Court To Ignore Federal Court’s Ruling On Illegal NSA Spying]

The FISA Court approved the federal government’s request on June 29, reauthorizing NSA data collection through Nov. 29, 2015.

The upcoming due date is one that Leon mentioned during the hearing. He told Klayman that it is critical to move now due to the limited time window between now and November.

“The clock is running and there isn’t much time between now and November 29,” Leon said. “This court believes there are millions and millions of Americans whose constitutional rights have been and are being violated, but the window for action is very small – it’s time to move.”

Federal Court Rules To Uphold Bulk Spying

Three judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to uphold the NSA’s bulk spying program, rebuking a 2013 ruling that disputed the program’s legality and called the technology “almost Orwellian.”

In the December 2013 ruling, Judge Richard Leon of District of Columbia’s Federal District Court wrote that the program was likely in violation of the 4th Amendment. The 2013 ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by several plaintiffs and led by Larry Klayman, challenging the spying program. It was the first time that a public court had acknowledged a problem with the program’s constitutionality.

According to National Journal, the Republican-nominated judges ruled Friday that the plaintiffs challenging the program’s constitutionality do not have the “standing” to do so, and the ruling “reaffirmed Friday that the plaintiff did not demonstrate the ‘concrete and particularized’ injury required to be able to sue because he could not prove that his own metadata was caught up in the NSA’s dragnet.”

A separate ruling in May from the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had deemed the NSA’s data collection program illegal, but the FISA court was later authorized to continue the collection.

Due to the passage of the USA Freedom Act, the program is scheduled to end on November 29, 2015.


Jeb Bush Proposes Increasing NSA Spying Powers To Combat ‘Evildoers’

GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been a particularly vocal advocate for the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, and on Tuesday he said he believes the NSA should have increased spying powers in order to combat “evildoers.”

Bush criticized the changes that were made to the NSA’s authority when the U.S. passed the USA Freedom Act after the Patriot Act expired in June. He also said he disagreed with the argument that the NSA collected bulk data records from innocent Americans violates their constitutionally protected privacy rights.

“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”

[RELATED: Jeb Bush Supports NSA Surveillance Program ‘To Keep Us Safe’]

In May, a federal appeals court ruled that NSA data collection is illegal, stating that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was used to justify the program, “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

Section 215 expired on June 1, and after lengthy debate in the Senate on whether the NSA should continue its illegal surveillance, the USA Freedom Act was passed on June 2. The USA Freedom Act changes the channels the government has to go through to collect Americans’ records by transferring bulk data collection records from the NSA, to private companies.

While the USA Freedom Act was supposed to end NSA’s bulk data collection, the Department of Justice submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking the Court to reinstate the NSA’s collection for the next six months, and to ignore the ruling from the Federal Appeal’s Court. The FISA court approved the request, and allowed NSA data collection through November 29, 2015.

[RELATED: Jeb Bush: Enhanced NSA Spying Is The Best Part Of the Obama Administration]

On Tuesday, Bush also criticized private technology companies for encrypting their products in an attempt to make it harder for the NSA to gain access.

[quote_center]“It makes it harder for the American government to do its job while protecting civil liberties to make sure evildoers aren’t in our midst,” Bush said.[/quote_center]

Throughout his Presidential campaign, Jeb Bush has tried to set himself apart from his brother and his father, both former U.S. presidents. The “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act,” or the USA Patriot Act, was signed into law by George W. Bush in Oct. 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11.

George W. Bush discussed a plan to “rid the world of evildoers” during a press conference on Sept. 16, 2001. “Your government is alert. The governors and mayors are alert that evil folks still lurk out there. As I said yesterday, people have declared war on America and they have made a terrible mistake,” he said. “My administration has a job to do and we’re going to do it. We will rid the world of the evil-doers.”

For more election coverage, click here.

Activists To Bombard Congress With Faxes To Fight Cybersecurity Bill

“CISPA is back,” warns the website of Fight For The Future, an advocacy group that has challenged controversial bills like CISPA, SOPA, and PIPA in the past. Senate Bill 754, known as CISA, is one of the latest cybersecurity bills and is reportedly headed to the Senate floor as early as next month.

Fight for the Future and other privacy advocates, frustrated with bills such as CISPA and CISA continuing to appear in legislation despite widespread public opposition and numerous deferments, are implementing a mostly obsolete method of data transmission to send a clear message to Congress.

Groups including Fight For The Future and Access have teamed up to initiate a large-scale campaign to send thousands of faxes to every member of the U.S. Senate. Eight phone lines have been programmed to convert emails and tweets with the hashtag FaxBigBrother into separate faxes to be sent to Congress.

“Groups like Fight for the Future have sent [Congress] millions of emails, and they still don’t seem to get it,” Fight for the Future’s Evan Greer told The Guardian.

[quote_center]“Maybe they don’t get it because they’re stuck in 1984, and we figured we’d use some 80’s technology to try to get our point across.”[/quote_center]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a co-author of CISA and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called this bill “a critical step to confront one of the most dire national and economic threats we face: cyber attacks.” Feinstein claimed that CISA would protect against cyberattacks using “purely voluntary information sharing” between the private sector and the government regarding cybersecurity threats.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Or.) and Mark Udall (D-Co.) have voiced their opposition to CISA, pointing out that in the past “the federal government has exploited loopholes to collect Americans’ private information in the name of security.” Wyden and Udall worried that CISA “lacks adequate protections for the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans, and that it will not materially improve cybersecurity.”

According to Fight For The Future, CISA is a “dirty deal between government and corporate giants.” The website FaxBigBrother describes CISA as “a massive bribe” from the federal government: “They will give corporations immunity for breaking virtually any law if they do so while providing the NSA, DHS, DEA, and local police surveillance access to everyone’s data in exchange for getting away with crimes, like fraud, money laundering, or illegal wiretapping.”


The Spy in Your Pocket


Does the government need a search warrant to know where you’ve been? Not if your cell phone provider knows. If you don’t like how that sounds, there may be ways to change it.

Take the case of Quartavious Davis, a Florida man convicted of robbing at gunpoint a pizzeria, a gas station, a drugstore, an auto parts store, a beauty salon, a fast food restaurant, and a jewelry store. The prosecution offered multiple lines of evidence, but there was one in particular that Davis’s lawyers objected to: records the government obtained from Davis’s cell phone provider, MetroPCS.

The records, which MetroPCS kept in its normal course of business, showed “the telephone numbers for each of Davis’s calls and the number of the cell tower that connected each call.” From this information, police concluded that “calls to and from Davis’s cell phone were connected through cell tower locations that were near the robbery locations, and thus Davis necessarily was near the robberies too.”

Prosecutors got their hands on the MetroPCS cell tower records using a court-ordered subpoena. In criminal cases like Davis’s, courts may grant subpoenas on “specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the records sought “are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.” Although this standard is higher than that for typical subpoenas, it’s lower than the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause standard.

Not Even a Search

On appeal, Davis argued that the cell tower records were obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. But the 11th Circuit — the federal appeals court encompassing Alabama, Georgia, and Florida — disagreed (United States v. Davis).

In fact, the government’s actions weren’t even a “search,” according to the court. In legal terms, a search occurs only when police invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of your phone conversations — what is actually said during your call — so eavesdropping on the conversation would constitute a search.

In Davis’s case, though, the police didn’t eavesdrop on his conversations. Nor did they use GPS to track his precise movements while he was making them. Because they merely obtained business records from a third party, the court says that the police didn’t invade Davis’s privacy:

[quote_box_center]Davis has no subjective or objective reasonable expectation of privacy in MetroPCS’s business records showing the cell tower locations that wirelessly connected his calls at or near the time of six of the seven robberies.… Instead, those cell tower records were created by MetroPCS, stored on its own premises, and subject to its control. Cell tower location records do not contain private communications of the subscriber. This type of non-content evidence, lawfully created by a third-party telephone company for legitimate business purposes does not belong to Davis, even if it concerns him.[/quote_box_center]

Because there wasn’t a “search,” the Fourth Amendment didn’t even apply.

Outdated Doctrine Meets Modern Society

Despite the court’s logic, something about this case still makes many observers feel uneasy. Even AT&T filed a brief in the case, arguing that the government’s actions were illegal. We all turn over huge amounts of information to third parties every day, and almost all of our activities can be tracked through our “smart” devices. And as the amount of data that businesses collect on us grows, so do concerns over the government’s ability to access that data.

[bctt tweet=”As the amount of data that businesses collect on us grows, so do concerns over the government’s ability to access that data.”]

So when the 11th Circuit focused its decision in Davis on something called the third-party doctrine, there was reason for a little gasp. The third-party doctrine was developed by the Supreme Court in the 1970s to draw a line between a person’s “reasonable” expectation of privacy and the information that person voluntarily shares with third parties. Back then, the Supreme Court held that a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy over his or her bank records, because that information was voluntarily provided to the bank. Nor can you have a reasonable expectation of privacy over the phone numbers you dial, because you furnish those numbers to the phone company in order to place calls. And so the government may subpoena these records from the business collecting them without meeting heightened standards under the Fourth Amendment.

The Davis court discussed these cases to support the premise that when people turn over their data to third parties by virtue of using those parties’ services, that information falls outside Fourth Amendment protection. A breathtakingly low point can be found in one of the judges’ concurring opinions:

[quote_box_center]If a telephone caller does not want to reveal dialed numbers to the telephone company, he has another option: don’t place a call. If a cell phone user does not want to reveal his location to a cellular carrier, he also has another option: turn off the cell phone.[/quote_box_center]

In other words, if you want your information protected by heightened privacy standards, go off the grid.

Today, that position is practically untenable. And this is what makes the 11th Circuit’s opinion troubling: it allows the government easy access to your data by virtue of your participation in modern society. The court’s holding helps grease the slippery slope that takes us away from historically reasonable expectations of privacy.

The court attempted to soften the blow by categorizing the subject information as noncontent data. In other words, the data in the Davis case was less private because it was not the actual substance of phone calls, texts, or other communications. Instead, it was the nonsubstantive cell-tower data that allowed the government to track where Davis was when he made or received calls. But we all know that a precise record of our movements reveals a lot about us, as the dissenting judge in the Davis case pointed out:

[quote_box_center]A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts.[/quote_box_center]

Toward Privacy

There is still a chance that the Supreme Court will reverse the 11th Circuit’s holding. Even if it doesn’t, other options exist. As mentioned in the Davisdecision, Congress can still legislate greater privacy protections.

The market provides another option. Although a court order forced MetroPCS to provide its records, “federal law did not require that MetroPCS either create or retain these business records.” As technology changes, and as we all become more attuned to privacy issues, we will look to the market for options. When this happens, cell phone providers will benefit from offering an “enhanced privacy” version of their services. Some customers will prefer that their data not be collected at all — or that it be anonymized. Providers could charge a higher price for anonymous services, or customers could forego certain personalized services.

By providing customized levels of privacy, the market can create de facto immunity from third-party “searches.”




“Reprinted from FEE with permission under Creative Commons Attribution License”

California Considers Limiting Use of Stingray Surveillance

Two bills currently making their way through the California legislature would limit the use of “stingray” cell phone surveillance by law enforcement. Both bills (SB178 and SB741) were recently unanimously passed out of Assembly committees.

Senate Bill 178, introduced in February by California Senators Mark Leno (D) and Joel Anderson (R), would “prohibit a government entity from compelling the production of or access to electronic communication information or electronic device information without a search warrant, a wiretap order, or an order for electronic reader records.”  The bill would also require a warrant before using a cell site simulator, commonly known as a “Stingray”. Under the bill, information collected without consent must be destroyed within 90 days, and law enforcement cannot gather more information than is necessary to achieve the objective of the search.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation:



Police officers can use the devices to track your cellphones signal.  Once the signal is located the stingray can provide a general location on the map and police officers can drive around (or in one case, walk door to door) until they get a signal from your phone. This has civil liberties advocates up in arms over the potential for misuse of the tools.

The Tenth Amendment Center reports that “representatives from a number of big tech firms including Facebook. Google, Lyft and Tech Freedom” came to support SB 178. According to the Tenth Amendment Center:

“Sen. Jerry Hill, Sen. Joel Anderson and Sen. Mark Leno introduced SB741 earlier this year. The bill would prohibit a local agency from acquiring or using a stingray device unless “approved by a resolution or ordinance adopted by its legislative body at a regularly scheduled public meeting where the public has a reasonable opportunity to comment.”

The bill also requires the resolution or ordinance to set forth policies on stingray use based on specific guidelines outlined in the legislation.

The Committee on Local Government passed SB741 9-0 on Wednesday. It now moves on to the Committee on Appropriations, where it will be considered after the summer break in mid-August.”

Both bills will be considered by the appropriate committees before facing a full vote in the California State Senate. A similar bill was passed in Washington earlier this year. A number of police departments around the country are now facing questions and criticism as the public has slowly learned about the devices.

For the last decade local police across the nation have been purchasing and training in the use of  Stingrays. TruthInMedia has written extensively on how the devices are being used to track suspected criminals while largely operating without oversight from local, state, or federal authorities. Exactly how the devices operate and what data they collect and/or save has been unknown because a vast amount of secrecy surrounding the tools.


Both the Harris Corporation that manufactures the StingRay and the Federal Bureau of Investigations require police to sign non-disclosure agreements related to the use of the devices. Through these NDAs local police departments have become subordinate to Harris and even in court cases in front of a judge, are not allowed to speak on the details of their arrangements. 

For more information check out this Guide to Stingray Technology.

New Documents Reveal Growing Database of License Plate Reader Cameras

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has received new documents via Freedom of Information Act requests that show the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to local and state law enforcement agencies for the purchase of automatic license plate reader (ALPRs) systems.

ALPRs are used to gather license plate, time, date and location, that can be used to create a detailed map of what individuals are doing. The devices can be attached to light poles, or toll booths, as well as on top of or inside law enforcement vehicles. In 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that the five previous years the Department of Homeland Security distributed over $50 million in grants to fund the acquisition of license plate readers.

The ACLU writes:

“The NHTSA is funding license plate readers for highway safety purposes only, but it’s far from clear how law enforcement agencies are interpreting this and whether they are using the funding to buy license plate readers for non-safety uses. The NHTSA should not be funding police technology for surveillance purposes and it should not let law enforcement apply for funding to decrease traffic fatalities and then turn around and use those funds to track people not suspected of any crime.”

The documents show that various state agencies received NHTSA funds for the purchase of ALPRs in order to document highway safety. While much of the grants are intended to be used to study highway safety, traffic congestion or similar benign activities the cameras have been shown to record other perfectly legal behavior. The ACLU has previously released documents that show the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was indeed using ALPRs to photograph vehicle occupants.

[quote_box_center]”We still do not know how police departments proposed to use license plate readers to improve ‘Safety Belt Performance’; does this mean the government would use the cameras to take pictures of people inside cars to see if they’re wearing seatbelts?” – American Civil Liberties Union[/quote_box_center]

Grants for the ALPRs have gone to law enforcement agencies in Vermont, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, California, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Illinois. Indiana requested funds, but it is unclear if NHTSA granted the funds. New York Division of Criminal Justice Services requested funding to purchase 70 license plate readers in 2008. It is also unclear if these funds were granted.

In May it was revealed that the FBI invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in license-plate reader technology despite conflicts regarding privacy concerns, according to newly released documents from the bureau.

The documents were also released through a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. Although heavily redacted, the emails show internal discussion on surveillance concerns related to the network of cameras that are used to capture and store license plate information.

In January TruthInMedia reported that the ACLU revealed the existence of a national program operated by the DEA  that collects and analyzes license plate information.

According to heavily redacted documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act Requests, the DEA has gathered as many as 343 million records in the National License Plate Recognition program. The initiative allows the DEA to connect its ALPRs and collected data with that of law enforcement agencies around the nation.

One document shows the DEA has at least 100 license plate readers in eight states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. Law enforcement in Southern California’s San Diego and Imperial Counties and New Jersey are among the agencies providing the DEA with data. The program opened to local and state partners in 2009.

The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is one of the federal agencies working with the DEA. The documents also reveal the program mining license plate reader data “to identify travel patterns.”  The DEA has established 100 license plate readers in eight states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. A 2010 document also explains that the DEA had by then set up 41 plate reader monitoring stations throughout Texas, New Mexico, and California.

For more information check out the ACLU’s report “You Are Being Tracked: License Plate Readers Explained”

Privacy Advocates Express Fears About Next Generation Light Bulbs

The American Civil Liberties Union is warning about the potential dangers of “Smart-City” projects that include the use of LED light bulbs and technology that could be used to monitor innocent civilians.

The New York Times reports that a number of companies are investing in Smart-Grid LEDs as major cities prepare to convert their public lighting systems:

“Using a combination of LEDs and big data technology, public lighting is the potential backbone of a system that could use billions of fixtures to collect data about traffic congestion at an intersection or a consumer walking down the cereal aisle, to name just a couple of applications.

Sensity Systems, a small start-up that builds and manages smart-lighting networks, is announcing on Monday that it has attracted money and partnerships from a group of major businesses, including Simon Property Group, the leading mall developer; General Electric; Cisco; and Acuity Brands, a leading maker of LED lighting.”

The Times goes on to say that Sensity has already installed its systems in Newark; Bangalore, India; Adelaide, Australia; and Albertslund, a Copenhagen suburb. The lights can be outfitted with sensors that can detect a range of activities, including motion, traffic congestion, pollutants, gunshots or, locate a particular shopper at a store.

Despite the perceived benefits of LED bulbs, the technology can be turned into a tool for surveillance. The ACLU stated that they strongly oppose “the creation of infrastructures for ubiquitous mass surveillance including the widespread deployment of lightbulb spying technology.Given the limited use of the product as a lighting device and the broad scope of its tracking and surveillance features, what this product really appears to be is a mass surveillance device being disguised as an LED light bulb.”

The spread of surveillance light bulbs is not a new phenomenon, however. Earlier this year TruthInMedia reported that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an expansion to a pilot program that uses “gun shot detector” microphones as part of an ongoing effort to more efficiently respond to crime.

Mayor De Blasio announced the expansion at a press conference at New York Police Department headquarters. The program will cost $1.5 million to install 300 listening devices around the precincts with the highest rates of gun violence. The devices are already live in the Bronx and should be operational in Brooklyn soon.  The microphones are attached to lamp posts and utility poles and connected through a wireless network called ShotSpotter. New York City is the latest to join more than sixty cities with the technology, including Oakland; San Francisco; Washington, DC; and Milwaukee police.

 The ShotSpotter program records noises believed to be gun shots and then relays the date, time, location, and a recording to police officers. ShotSpotter sensors are connected to thousands of cameras as part of New York City’s Domain Awareness System.

Critics believe the devices will surreptitiously record innocent individuals conversations. It has already been shown that the devices can record conversations of those walking in range of the microphones. In 2014 CBS San Francisco reported that the Oakland Police Department was able to record a dying man’s last words using the ShotSpotter system. Oakland Privacy Working Group lawyer Brian Hofer told CBS that the OPD originally denied the ShotSpotter’s ability to record voices. A similar situation took place in New Bedford, Mass., and proved that the devices do invade privacy.

What are your thoughts? Do the benefits outweigh the dangers? Can we trust the government to use these tools for benevolent purposes?

U.S. Senate Wants to Censor “Terrorist Activity” on Social Media Sites

The Senate Intelligence Committee has approved a new measure which would force social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to report content that is believed to be connected to “terrorist activity”.

The Washington Post reported that the measure will be included as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2016. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved the measure in a closed session on Wednesday July 1st. The measure is supposed to help intelligence and law enforcement officials detect terror threats.

The Post reports:

“It would not require companies to monitor their sites if they do not already do so, said a committee aide, who requested anonymity because the bill has not yet been filed. The measure applies to “electronic communication service providers,” which includes e-mail services such as Google and Yahoo.”

The bill would require any online company that “obtains actual knowledge of any terrorist activity . . . shall provide to the appropriate authorities the facts or circumstances of the alleged terrorist activity.”

Google, Facebook and Twitter declined to comment to The Post, however, “anonymous industry officials” reportedly called the measure a bad idea.

Gregory Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Post he believed the measure would erode privacy in the name of fighting terrorism.

“If it becomes law, their natural tendency will be to err on the side of reporting anything that might be characterized as ‘terrorist activity’ even if it is not. And their duty to report will chill speech on the Internet that relates to terrorism.”

The U.S. government already maintains a massive surveillance state, including a number of programs that gather internet user data. This latest measure would only further codify the government’s ability to force private companies to hand over sensitive information.

FISA Court Renews NSA Collection Of Phone Records

The NSA has been authorized to resume bulk collection of American phone records while expired Patriot Act provisions give way to modified data collection practices under the USA Freedom Act.

According to an order on Monday by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the federal government’s request to renew dragnet data collection of U.S. phone metadata until November 29, 2015 was approved. As the Freedom Act reportedly prepares to implement limitations regarding some aspects of NSA surveillance, the legislation provides a “transition period” in which the NSA will be allowed to temporarily continue its controversial data collection practices that a federal appeals court had declared illegal in May.

[RELATED: Federal Appeals Court Ruling: NSA Data Collection Is Illegal]

“This application presents the question whether the recently-enacted USA FREEDOM Act, in amending Title V of FISA, ended the bulk collection of telephone metadata. The short answer is yes. But in doing so, Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application in this case,” stated the order.

The Department of Justice had filed a request in June seeking to continue bulk data collection. The request, written by Justice Department national security chief John Carlin, cited the Freedom Act’s “orderly transition” clause and appeared to be asking FISA to ignore the May appeals court ruling.

[RELATED: DoJ Asks Surveillance Court To Ignore Federal Court’s Ruling On Illegal NSA Spying]

“The Second Circuit’s recent panel opinion in ACLU v. Clapper, No. 14-42 (2d Cir. May 7, 2015) does not bar this Court from authorizing the production in bulk of call 6 detail records, notwithstanding its holding that Section 1861 does not authorize the bulk production of call detail records,” Carlin wrote in the June 2 request.



City of Huntsville Reportedly Threatens Veteran with Arrest for Living off the Grid

Huntsville, AL military veteran Tyler Truitt answered the call to defend the rights of all Americans during his service to his country but is now being forced to defend his own right to live a self-sustaining lifestyle on his property. According to WAFF-TV, Truitt and his girlfriend Soraya Hamar currently reside on their own land in Huntsville, where they have lived off-the-grid successfully through the winter, using rainwater, composting, and solar energy as an alternative to city utilities. However, the City of Huntsville is suing Truitt in an effort to condemn the property, citing city codes requiring potable drinking water and a sewage connection and banning trailers without a permit.

They came and they condemned our house and told us if we stayed here we’d be arrested for trespassing on our own property, and the reason why is, they said, it was unsafe living conditions because we don’t have city utilities hooked up,” said Truitt. “I took an oath that I would support and defend the Constitution and the freedoms that entails, and I really feel like those are being trampled upon.

Truitt and Hamar intend to fight the condemnation of their property at an upcoming July 29 court appearance and have indicated that they are willing to face arrest if authorities attempt to force them off of their land. “You have to stand up for what you believe in. They could come out here today if they wanted to and take us to jail for trespassing if that’s what they want to call it and, you know, that’d be fine with me. I’ll still come back the next day and the next day and the next day because it’s my home and because I live here. Where else am I supposed to go really?” said Truitt.

Truitt pointed out the facts that the trailer on the property is not visible from the street and that they have access to all of the normal features of a typical home. “We’ve got things normal people have, we have a TV, a fridge, a microwave, stuff like that.

Kelly Schrimsher, spokesperson for Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, said, according to WAFF-TV, “Apparently he has chosen to live an alternative lifestyle and that’s great, people can choose to live different ways but if you live in the city of Huntsville you do have to abide by our laws and ordinance. It’s about the health and public safety of our citizens, so you must have a sanitary sewer, you must have potable running water. There are certain requirements that are there to protect our citizens through the winter.

Schrimsher added, “I’m sure there are other areas and properties in the country that if you wanted to choose a different lifestyle you could do so.

Truitt has called on supporters of property rights and off-the-grid living to contact city officials and urge a change in policy.

SC GOP Governor Nikki Haley Signs Bill Requiring Police to Wear Body Cameras

The above-embedded Associated Press video captured the moment last Wednesday when South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed S 47 into law, a bill requiring all police in the state to wear body cameras.

Governor Haley signed the bill alongside family members of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man who was fatally gunned down by North Charleston, SC Police Officer Michael Slager during an April 4 traffic stop over a malfunctioning taillight. Slager has since been fired and charged with murder over his role in the tragedy.

[RELATED AUDIO: Recording of Officer After Walter Scott Shooting Doesn’t Sound Remorseful]

According to The Post and Courier, the bill grants state law enforcement agencies a nine month grace period to obtain state funding and implement the body cameras. WYFF-TV notes that it also provides funding for the cameras and prohibits the footage taken by them from being obtained by the public through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Cato Institute’s Matthew Feeney wrote, “Among those permitted to access police body camera footage [under the South Carolina law] are: the subjects of a body camera footage, criminal defendants, civil litigants, and attorneys representing any of these people.”

The bill was introduced in December of 2014, but failed to gain traction until Walter Scott’s highly-publicized officer-involved death in April of 2015.

Said Governor Haley at the bill’s signing ceremony, “What did happen was we saw a sad tragedy, we saw a good man die when he didn’t have to, and we saw a few amazing things happen — we saw everybody step up and say, rather than being victims to this, we’re going to lift everyone up and make the state better, and that’s why this is a proud day. That’s why this is a good day, because this was about saying we don’t ever want a day like that to happen again… This is going to strengthen the people of South Carolina, this is going to strengthen law enforcement, and this is going to make sure that Walter Scott did not die without us realizing we had a problem.

I’m sure my brother is looking down and saying: ‘Good job. Good job, South Carolina,’” said Walter Scott’s brother Anthony Scott, according to The Aiken Standard.

Said Democratic State Senator Gerald Malloy of the law, “It is a great day in South Carolina, because we become the first state in the country that has a requirement for all law enforcement to end up wearing these body cameras.

DoJ Asks Surveillance Court To Ignore Federal Court’s Ruling On Illegal NSA Spying

Hours after President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act, which would continue the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, while transferring its bulk data collection to private phone companies, the Department of Justice filed a request asking a FISA court to continue the NSA’s collection for six months.

The request, which was filed with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on June 2, asked the Court to “approve the Government’s application for the bulk production of call detail records for a 180 day transition period,” claiming that this request is appropriate, despite the fact that on May 7, a federal appeals court ruled that NSA spying is illegal.

In the request, which was written by Justice Department national security chief John Carlin, the USA Freedom Act’s six-month “orderly transition” clause is referenced, but Carlin does not address whether the clause still applies now that the program was supposed to have shut down completely at midnight on May 31.

The NSA’s mass surveillance program, which was allowed under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, became illegal at 12:01 a.m. on June 1, when the section expired. GOP Presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led the campaign to block a direct extension of Section 215, and took to the floor of the Senate for 10 hours and 30 minutes to speak out against NSA spying.

The Guardian noted that Carlin also suggests that the Obama Administration “may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop,” and might “seek to challenge the injunction.”

“In the event an injunction of some sort were to issue by the district court,the Government would need to assess, in light of the nature and scope of whatever injunction the district court issued, its ability to carry out authority granted under an order issued by this Court,” Carlin wrote.

A report from the Washington Post in Jan. 2014  found that after analyzing 225 terrorism cases inside the United States, the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.” 

In the request, Carlin claimed that although the DoJ has considered the Federal court’s ruling on NSA spying in its evaluation of the government’s application, “Second Circuit rulings do not constitute controlling precedent for this Court,” and they are requesting that the NSA’s bulk data collection program continue, even though the majority of the data collected “ultimately will not be terrorist-related.”