Menu
DEA sued for snooping on international phone calls

DEA sued for snooping on international phone calls

A bulk phone record collection program run by the DEA for decades violates U.S. fundamental rights, Human Rights Watch claims

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's logging of international phone calls made from the U.S. was illegal, pressure group Human Rights Watch has alleged in a lawsuit filed late Tuesday.

The DEA and the U.S. Department of Justice ran the secret snooping program for decades without judicial oversight, logging "virtually all telephone calls" from the U.S. to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, according to a USA Today report. The program did not record the content of the calls and was used to fight drug trafficking.

This is yet another government bulk surveillance program used for untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of U.S. citizens, affecting millions of innocent people, said the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which represents Human Rights Watch in the legal action.

According to the EFF, the secret program violates fundamental civil rights. The lawsuit aims to assert the rights of Human Rights Watch and of U.S. citizens to make international calls without being subject to government surveillance, it said.

The program, said to have been run by the DEA's special operations division, reportedly began logging phone calls in bulk in 1992, but was suspended in September 2013 after the outrage over the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance programs.

This suit, filed with the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, seeks to ensure the program is permanently terminated, that it cannot restart, and that all of Human Rights Watch's illegally collected records have been purged from all government systems, the EFF said.

According to the suit, the DEA disclosed the existence of the program in January when a federal judge ordered the government to reveal more information about it as part of a criminal case against a man accused of violating export restrictions on goods to Iran. The DEA's disclosure showed that the it relied on administrative subpoenas to amass the database of call records, the EFF said, adding that the records were obtained without judicial oversight or approval.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security are also listed as defendants in the case.

The challenge to the bulk collection program is part of a series of legal challenges by the EFF against what it said are unconstitutional government surveillance programs.

In 2013, together with a host of other organizations including a church and marijuana legalization and gun ownership groups, it filed a suit against the NSA over a surveillance program that targets U.S. residents' phone records.

The EFF also filed a class action suit against the NSA in 2008, alleging that the NSA installed equipment to conduct mass surveillance at AT&T telecommunications facilities to indiscriminately collect communications of all of the people who use that network. And last year, the EFF joined a suit filed by an Idaho nurse against U.S. President Barack Obama and several U.S. intelligence agencies challenging the government's bulk collection of the telephone records.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Department of JusticeNational Security AgencyHuman Rights WatchU.S. Department of Homeland SecurityCivil lawsuitsDrug Enforcement AdministrationlegalFederal Bureau of InvestigationElectronic Frontier Foundation

Featured

Slideshows

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honoured its top performing partners across the channel in Australia and New Zealand, recognising innovation and excellence on both sides of the Tasman. Revealed under the Vivid lights in Sydney, Intalock claimed the coveted Partner of the Year 2017 (Pacific) award, with Data#3 acknowledged for 12 months of strong growth across the market. Meanwhile, Datacom took home the New Zealand honours, with Global Storage and Insentra winning service provider and consulting awards respectively. Dicker Data was recognised as the standout distributor of the year, while Hitachi Data Systems claimed the alliance partner award. Photos by Bob Seary.

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners
Show Comments