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Technologists Turn On Obama

Representing a large group of top computer science experts and professors, the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday submitted a brief to a federal appeals court supporting the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit over the NSA's mass call records collection program. At the core of the brief is the argument that metadata matters.

Intelligence officials have often downplayed privacy concerns over the NSA's interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act by stating that the agency does not collect the "content" of calls, but only the metadata - who a person called, when, how long the conversation lasted and other information.

EFF's brief begins with the line "It is not just metadata," and goes on to explain how metadata collected on a massive scale can often reveal more personal information about an individual than content. The brief outlines how metadata can show patterns of behavior, political and religious affiliations, and other personal details, especially when combined with other data sources.

"The metadata the government collects isn't just a list of numbers dialed and times - it's a window into the lives of millions of Americans," EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold said.

"The law should provide the highest level of protection for this kind of information. The technology experts who signed the brief provide a valuable perspective for the court to consider."

The ACLU filed its lawsuit against the Director of National Intelligence, the NSA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and the FBI last year after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed a secret legal order allowing for the indiscriminate capture of call metadata from Verizon Business Services.

EFF represents 17 professors who signed onto the brief, including: Profs. Harold Abelson and Ron Rivest of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Prof. Andrew Appel, chair of Princeton University's computer science department; Prof. Steven Bellovin of Columbia University's computer science department; and Matthew Blaze, an associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania's Computer and Information Science Department. Other experts signed on to the brief come from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, Rice University and Purdue.

"Metadata equals surveillance," said security expert and EFF board member Bruce Schneier, another signer of the brief. "It's who we talk to, what we read, and where we go. When the president says 'don't worry, it's only metadata,' what he's really saying is that you're all under surveillance."

While EFF is acting as amicus in this case, it also has two ongoing lawsuits of its own that challenge NSA surveillance. In First Unitarian v. NSA, EFF represents 22 groups whose First Amendment rights to association are violated by the NSA program. Jewel v. NSA is a case on behalf of AT&T customers who were subject to the unconstitutional NSA spying.


See also:



* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.


See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 14, 2014

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