Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

A Victory for Privacy and Transparency: HRW v. DEA

EFF – “A Victory for Privacy and Transparency: HRW v. DEA – In a victory for millions of people in the U.S. who have placed telephone calls to locations overseas, EFF and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s practice of collecting those records in bulk has stopped and that the only bulk database of those records has been destroyed. From the 1990s to 2013, the DEA secretly and illegally collected billions of records of Americans’ international calls to hundreds of countries around the world. In April 2015, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client, Human Rights Watch, challenging the constitutionality of the program and seeking to have the records purged from the government’s possession. Today, HRW has agreed to voluntarily dismiss that suit after receiving assurances from the government, provided under penalty of perjury, that the bulk collection has ceased and that the only database containing the billions of Americans’ call records collected by the DEA has been purged from the government’s possession. Those assurances were provided after a federal judge ordered the government to respond to HRW’s questions about the bulk collection program—the first instance we know of in which a plaintiff challenging a mass surveillance program was allowed to take discovery. From the outset, the government tried to prevent the judge from deciding the legality of the government’s actions, insisting that the DEA’s database had already been deleted and the collection had stopped. In the government’s view, there was nothing for the judge to review and the case had to be dismissed. But we’ve seen too much surveillance double-speak from the government to take those statements at face value. We wanted them to answer our questions about the program, on our terms.”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.