US asks top court not to take case on NSA cyber-snooping

Oct 16, 2013
An aerial photo of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland on May 31, 2006

President Barack Obama's administration is urging the Supreme Court not to take up the first case it has received on controversial National Security Agency cybersnooping.

US government attorneys argue that the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to take the case, filed in July by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

EPIC believes the NSA overstepped its authority by carrying out broad communications monitoring and surveillance worldwide, and demanded the program be stopped.

A US Supreme Court decision to take the case would be "a drastic and extraordinary remedy that is reserved for really extraordinary causes," argued Donald Verrilli, an administration lawyer, in a statement released late Tuesday.

The US administration also believes the EIPC suit cannot move forward because it argues the court lacks authority under the 2001 Patriot Act to weigh in on the legality of NSA activities.

"This court lacks jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," the secret intelligence affairs , Verrilli added.

In mid-August President Barack Obama pledged to overhaul US spy programs amid a debate sparked by the leaks of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed vast telephone and Internet surveillance programs.

Obama promised a new era in intelligence with more supervision, transparency and safeguards in the NSA's collection of electronic information.

His administration has however maintained a hard line against the leaking of such information, and is seeking to prosecute Snowden on espionage charges.

After the disclosures Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he has been granted one year's temporary asylum despite Washington's demands that he be returned.

The National Security Agency is gathering email and instant messenger contact lists from hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens worldwide, many of them Americans, The Washington Post reported late Monday.

The US agency's data collection program harvests the data from address books and "buddy lists," the newspaper said, citing senior intelligence officials and top secret documents provided by the fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

During a single day last year, the NSA's Special Source Operations branch collected 444,743 e-mail address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from unspecified other providers, the Post said, according to an internal NSA PowerPoint presentation.

The figures, described as a typical daily intake of the document, correspond to a rate of more than 250 million a year, according to the report, which was published on the newspaper's website.

The NSA declined to confirm the specific allegations in the Post report but defended its surveillance activities as legal and respectful of privacy rights.

Explore further: Report: NSA collecting millions of contact listss

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User comments : 4

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geral
1 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2013
USA is run by intel community; pls see my latest report:

NSA leaks and other more serious atrocities are the symptoms of a very sick culture:

http://www.sosbee...hoto.jpg

An Introduction To The Corruption Of the American Political System:

http://barcelona....ndex.php

or:

http://austin.ind...ence-usa
baudrunner
not rated yet Oct 16, 2013
If the government says that what it's doing is legal, then it's legal..? Snowden was doing what the government was doing but that wasn't legal because the government says that wasn't legal. It's things like this that sit on the public subconscious that ultimately affect people's perceptions of the government's credibility. And what about the U.S. government spying on foreign parties? How legal is that? They are merely setting the example for hackers to emulate. I don't buy arguments that its okay if the government does it because corruption is part and parcel of the paradigm of political science. Over the generations, we have learned to accept that. Why should they expect less of us?
CrazedLeper
not rated yet Oct 20, 2013
Absolutely scandalous.
Joseph Ratliff
not rated yet Oct 20, 2013
Seems to me that the Supreme Court was created for EXACTLY this type of case. It's a check and balance situation, to ensure the NSA doesn't have too much power.