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
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6501
Published: 2015-03-30
The default soap.wsdl_cache_dir setting in (1) php.ini-production and (2) php.ini-development in PHP through 5.6.7 specifies the /tmp directory, which makes it easier for local users to conduct WSDL injection attacks by creating a file under /tmp with a predictable filename that is used by the get_s...

CVE-2014-9652
Published: 2015-03-30
The mconvert function in softmagic.c in file before 5.21, as used in the Fileinfo component in PHP before 5.4.37, 5.5.x before 5.5.21, and 5.6.x before 5.6.5, does not properly handle a certain string-length field during a copy of a truncated version of a Pascal string, which might allow remote atta...

CVE-2014-9653
Published: 2015-03-30
readelf.c in file before 5.22, as used in the Fileinfo component in PHP before 5.4.37, 5.5.x before 5.5.21, and 5.6.x before 5.6.5, does not consider that pread calls sometimes read only a subset of the available data, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (uninitialized memory ...

CVE-2014-9705
Published: 2015-03-30
Heap-based buffer overflow in the enchant_broker_request_dict function in ext/enchant/enchant.c in PHP before 5.4.38, 5.5.x before 5.5.22, and 5.6.x before 5.6.6 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors that trigger creation of multiple dictionaries.

CVE-2014-9709
Published: 2015-03-30
The GetCode_ function in gd_gif_in.c in GD 2.1.1 and earlier, as used in PHP before 5.5.21 and 5.6.x before 5.6.5, allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (buffer over-read and application crash) via a crafted GIF image that is improperly handled by the gdImageCreateFromGif function.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.