Risk
10/10/2013
11:07 AM
50%
50%

NSA Lawsuit Proceeding, Despite Government Shutdown

Privacy groups successfully argued that if federal furloughs haven't stopped NSA's call-tracking programs, then related lawsuits shouldn't be delayed.

A lawsuit filed against the National Security Agency challenging the legality of its telephone metadata tracking programs will proceed, despite the furlough of many federal workers.

So ruled San Francisco-based U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White, quashing a motion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stay the case of "First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles vs. NSA." The defendants' motion cited the "lapse of appropriations" -- meaning the partial shutdown of the federal government -- affecting Department of Justice and NSA employees as the reason for why the case should be put on hold, pending Congress resuming full funding for both agencies.

But Judge White disagreed, issuing a one-page order Tuesday that said simply, "All deadlines shall remain as previously set," Politico first reported.

The lawsuit against the NSA centers on the agency's bulk collection of telephone metadata, and was filed by 22 organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the organizations in court.

[ Has NSA surveillance met its match? See NSA Battles Tor: 9 Facts. ]

In a court filing, the EFF had argued against the government's motion to delay the case, noting that the NSA's surveillance apparatus wasn't furloughed. "Notwithstanding the lack of appropriations, defendants are continuing the bulk collection each day of all the telephone calling records of plaintiffs and hundreds of millions of other Americans," according to a court document filed by the EFF. "Department of Justice lawyers continue to work at that task, including preparing the application for a renewal of the current FISA Court telephone calling records bulk collection order, which expires on or about October 17, 2013." The EFF's filing also referenced a DOJ contingency plan showing that 91% of national security employees were exempted from the furlough.

"If it is essential that the spying continue despite the lack of appropriations, then it is equally essential that the question of whether the spying is lawful also go forward," the EFF argued.

The existence of the NSA metadata collection programs, which sport codenames such as Prism and have been in operation since 2006, were revealed this past summer in documents leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden. According to the EFF, the lawsuit against the NSA "argues that this spying violates the First Amendment, which protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group."

Organizations joining the lawsuit include church groups, the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, multiple state branches of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Human Rights Watch and the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, as well as other privacy rights groups.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5211
Published: 2015-01-27
Stack-based buffer overflow in the Attachmate Reflection FTP Client before 14.1.433 allows remote FTP servers to execute arbitrary code via a large PWD response.

CVE-2014-8154
Published: 2015-01-27
The Gst.MapInfo function in Vala 0.26.0 and 0.26.1 uses an incorrect buffer length declaration for the Gstreamer bindings, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) or possibly execute arbitrary code via unspecified vectors, which trigger a heap-based buffer overf...

CVE-2014-9197
Published: 2015-01-27
The Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware before 1.60 IR 04 stores rde.jar under the web root with insufficient access control, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive setup and configuration information via a direct request.

CVE-2014-9198
Published: 2015-01-27
The FTP server on the Schneider Electric ETG3000 FactoryCast HMI Gateway with firmware through 1.60 IR 04 has hardcoded credentials, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain access via an FTP session.

CVE-2014-9646
Published: 2015-01-27
Unquoted Windows search path vulnerability in the GoogleChromeDistribution::DoPostUninstallOperations function in installer/util/google_chrome_distribution.cc in the uninstall-survey feature in Google Chrome before 40.0.2214.91 allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse program in the ...

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
If you’re a security professional, you’ve probably been asked many questions about the December attack on Sony. On Jan. 21 at 1pm eastern, you can join a special, one-hour Dark Reading Radio discussion devoted to the Sony hack and the issues that may arise from it.