The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) today for violating the First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting the call records of 19 groups. The Internet advocacy group has filed this lawsuit on behalf of 19 groups and organizations that in any other situation would make for strange bedfellows.
The groups that have signed onto this lawsuit include the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles (lead on the lawsuit), Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Calguns Foundation, Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, People for the American Way, TechFreedom and many other groups. The lawsuit is the direct result of information revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently seeking asylum in a friendly country. He also revealed details on a data collection program called PRISM, also operated by the NSA.
The lawsuit targets the NSA's Associational Tracking Program, which collects phone information from all major American telecommunication companies, including time and duration of calls. The EFF is seeking an injunction against the program along with the return and destruction of communication information possessed by the NSA.
"The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA's mass, untargeted collection of Americans' phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties," said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Who we call, how often we call them, and how long we speak shows the government what groups we belong to or associate with, which political issues concern us, and our religious affiliation. Exposing this information – especially in a massive, untargeted way over a long period of time – violates the Constitution and the basic First Amendment tests that have been in place for over 50 years."
You can read the full complaint here.