In response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a secret spy court has ordered the federal government to declassify decisions (issued by the spy court) that authorized the NSA to collect meta-data on millions of US phone records. The court cited recent leaks by Edward Snowden as a factor in its order, which you can read here. The Guardian has a detailed account here. Earlier today, big technology firms renewed their efforts in the secret court to get permission to disclose how many surveillance requests they receive.
Google(s goog) and Microsoft(s msft) have been badgering the FISA court, a secret body that oversees spy requests, to release the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests they receive every year. The government has yet to respond, but instead has asked for six different extensions. Now, the tech firms have amended their complaint to ask for permission to disclose a specific number, not (as before) a broad range. Yahoo(s yhoo) today filed its own lawsuit about the issue.
Yahoo has joined Microsoft and Google in suing to reveal the number of surveillance requests it receives. Unfortunately, the lawsuit was filed in a secret court which remains a black hole of basic legal information.
Google and Microsoft sued the government in June, claiming they have a free speech right to disclose the number of surveillance requests they receive. The government has filed six extensions but no response.
Five years ago, Yahoo lost a challenge to the federal government’s demands to impose surveillance technology. In September, we will find out what happened.
Many of America’s controversial surveillance activities are “legal” because they are approved by a secret court. Critics, including its own judges, have called for reform – but the problem won’t be fixed until the court adopts some basic legal traditions.
The secret FISA court agreed to publish redacted versions of secret 2008 legal proceedings in which Yahoo tried to resist the federal government’s new surveillance program.
In a new court filing, the Obama Administration says the secret FISA court has no obligation to publish its decisions — not even those that explain why new forms of spying are constitutional.
Google has sued to shine more light on the secret court that approves controversial national security letters — the petition also represents part of the ongoing PR strategy of tech companies caught up in a surveillance scandal.