Menu
Surveillance court orders transparency review of its NSA opinions

Surveillance court orders transparency review of its NSA opinions

The court tells government agencies to review its own orders related to the legality of telephone records collection

A U.S. surveillance court has ordered government agencies to review the court's own opinions related to the legality of a massive telephone records collection program at the U.S. National Security Agency in preparation for possible publication of those opinions.

The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on Friday ordered U.S. government lawyers and intelligence officials to review the court's opinions related to the scope and constitutionality of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the statute that the NSA has cited as its authority for its mass collection of U.S. telephone records in recent years.

At the request of the American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Access Information Clinic, the court ordered the U.S. government to review the court's opinions for possible declassification, giving lawyers until Oct. 4 to do so.

Despite government objections about the ACLU's standing in the case, the civil rights group does have an interest in seeing the court decisions, wrote FISC Judge Dennis Saylor.

"The ACLU's active participation in the legislative and public debates about the proper scope of Section 215 and the advisability of amending that provision is obvious from the public record and not reasonably in dispute," Saylor wrote. "Nor is it disputed that access to the Section 215 Opinions would assist the ACLU in that debate."

The ACLU praised the court's decision. "We are pleased that the surveillance court has recognized the importance of transparency to the ongoing public debate about the NSA's spying," Alex Abdo, attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said in a statement. "For too long, the NSA's sweeping surveillance of Americans has been shrouded in unjustified secrecy. Today's ruling is an overdue rebuke of that practice. Secret law has no place in our democracy."

Representatives of the NSA and the U.S. Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on Friday's court order.

Friday's order doesn't cover opinions requested by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed in October 2011 in a New York court. The ACLU had requested a wider release of documents in this request to the FISC.

This week, the ODNI released several FISC opinions addressing NSA violations of court-imposed limits on its surveillance programs.

The government has agreed to release more documents in October.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentsecurityprivacyinternettelecommunicationAmerican Civil Liberties UnionU.S. National Security AgencyU.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance CourtU.S. Office of Director of National IntelligenceDennis SaylorYale Law School’s Media Freedom and Access Information ClinicAlex Abdo

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel

Reseller News honoured the leading female front runners of the New Zealand channel at the 2018 Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in Auckland. The awards honoured standout individuals across seven categories, spanning Entrepreneur; Innovation; Rising Star; Shining Star; Community; Technical and Achievement.

Meet the leading female front runners of the Kiwi channel
Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners

Microsoft honoured leading partners across the channel following a year of customer innovation and market growth in New Zealand. The 2018 Microsoft Partner Awards recognised excellence within the context of the end-user, spanning a host of emerging and established providers.

Meet the top performing customer-centric Microsoft channel partners
Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch

Introducing the Reseller News Innovation Awards, launched to the channel at the 2018 Judges’ Lunch in Auckland. With more than 70 judges now part of the voting panel, the new-look awards will reflect the changing dynamics of the channel, recognising excellence across customer value and innovation - spanning start-ups, partners, distributors and vendors.

Reseller News launches new-look Awards at 2018 Judges’ Lunch
Show Comments