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United States Privacy The Courts

US Judge Rules Against NSA In Phone Spying Case (reuters.com) 93

An anonymous reader writes with news that a federal judge ordered the NSA to immediately end its collection of call records associated with a California lawyer and his law firm. Reuters reports: "Opponents of mass surveillance cheered the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who granted an injunction to bar the NSA from collecting the phone metadata of California attorney J.J. Little and his small legal practice. Unlike previous rulings against the NSA's program to vacuum up Americans' call data, which was exposed publicly by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, Leon's opinion does not grant a stay, meaning it will take effect immediately."
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US Judge Rules Against NSA In Phone Spying Case

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  • by dnaumov ( 453672 )

    Did he prove he has standing to sue? Isn't that what most (all?) other lawsuits failed to do resulting in dismissal?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Dont read TFA or anything:

      A higher court previously rejected Klayman's challenge, saying he could not prove his phone was targeted by the NSA as Snowden's documents only revealed customers of Verizon Business Network Services, which is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications, such as Little, were implicated. Klayman added Little to his case to address the standing concern.

    • Re:How (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:25PM (#50896429) Journal

      Did he prove he has standing to sue? Isn't that what most (all?) other lawsuits failed to do resulting in dismissal?

      Just guessing:
        - He's a lawyer (part of the legal system itself), suing over the phone info on himself and his firm.
        - His, and his firm's, consultations with clients are privileged. So keeping records on who they talked to and when are a real infringement on a fundamental and recognized right. (It's not just "chilling" speech. Its chilling the right to an attorney.)
        - The Snowden revelations show that these records are being kept on him - because they're being kept on EVERYONE. So he cleared the other hurdle that the secrecy of agency operations (including the gag order provisions of National Security Letters) usually raised.

      So it looks like he's got enough to avoid the "no standing" excuse for courts to drop the hot potato.

      • Re:How (Score:4, Informative)

        by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @06:10PM (#50896819) Homepage

        Just guessing:

        Why bother to guess, when the answer is in the article, and someone already posted the correct answer?

        • Because this is slashdot, and the uninformed assumptions of a logged in doofus need to be moderated +4 Insightful, while the relevant and factual (and earlier) post by the AC needs to stay modded at 0.

        • Why bother to guess, when the answer is in the article, and someone already posted the correct answer?

          Because this time I didn't have enough time before a hard deadline, but thought some people might value my opinion anyhow. If I checked those items first, and the posting was still appropriate, I would not have had the time to compose and post it.

          So I put the caveat right at the top:
          - If a reader only wants something researched, he is free to stop right there and move on to another posting.

  • My fourth amendment rights should matter too, not just a law firm's.

    • The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      1. Are you sure no warrant was issued?
      2. Are you sure that the government feels it is unreasonable?

      My understanding is that there was a warrant issued by the FISA court, which is the federal court assigned to the NSA.

      • Read the Fourth Amendment text about warrants. A general warrant would be unconstitutional. Was there any probable cause to keep track of the communications of this particular law office?

        I don't know the exact pretext the NSA uses. Either they consider such a blanket search reasonable, or they consider it not a search unless and until some human access the records or some action is taken on them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      My fourth amendment rights should matter too, not just a law firm's.

      No no. You are little people. Only big people's rights matter. Big people are either rich or connected to the rich (like lawyers and politicians). This judgement solves this perfectly.

      Think of this: Whenever Bill is travelling far away and can't get home for the night, instead of just calling Melinda he'll also conference in his lawyer. That way their phone sex will be guaranteed fully private.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Whenever Bill is travelling far away and can't get home for the night, instead of just calling Melinda he'll also conference in his lawyer. That way their phone sex will be guaranteed fully private.

        not enough brain bleach in the world

  • The decision is of little practical consequence because it is so narrow in scope in covering only Little and his firm.

    I know nothing about US Law System, so I ask you: what are the implications of this ruling on other cases, either pending or new ? Does this mean there is no Jusrisprudence due to too focused scope of the ruling ? Can this federal ruling be appealed, and if so, to what extent ?

    Alvie

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The decision is of little practical consequence because it is so narrow in scope in covering only Little and his firm.

      I know nothing about US Law System, so I ask you: what are the implications of this ruling on other cases, either pending or new ? Does this mean there is no Jusrisprudence due to too focused scope of the ruling ? Can this federal ruling be appealed, and if so, to what extent ?

      Alvie

      Anything and everything can be appealed, which is why the side with the deepest pockets usually wins. I'm sure the NSA will say things have stopped but given the interests of national security, no one will know for sure until the next Snowden.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I know nothing about US Law System

      It's fundamentally broken, heavily (as in, without one or both of the following, you're fucked) biased towards participants with money and/or power, incorporates very little one could legitimately term "justice", treats blacks far more roughly than it treats whites, has no respect whatsoever for personal or consensual informed choice, doesn't actually have a sane, workable definition for "informed", and operates in constant and profound violation of the constitution from th

      • I'm not really arguing with your summary, but that's criminal law, not civil law. This is a civil case.

        How this works is that the plaintiff files suit against the defendant, and asks the court to do something, typically to award the plaintiff money or to grant an injunction that will prevent the defendant from doing something. To determine the facts (if in doubt) there will be a jury, instructed to make decisions based on the preponderance of the evidence rather than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" cri

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      There is there is no Jusrisprudence because it is a district court ruling. Those are basically the lowest level federal courts, that hear most cases. Until there is at least an appellate court ruling their decisions don't usually create case law that impacts other courts.

      What is interesting is there is no stay granted. Which does mean the NSA must comply with the judgement right away or they may be found to be in contempt. One wonders if the NSA has the technical capability to do so without shutting dow

    • This is the "first crack in the wall" case. It brings all the guns possible to bear on the spooks.

      If you can't get a win in the legal system when Attorney-client privilege and the right to legal council are at stake, and the investigative agencies are spying on lawyer/client communication and the research the lawyers do to support their court arguments, you might as well throw in the towel.

      If you DO get a win, you've established that there are situations where the spying can be blocked. Then it's in the i

  • compliance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BradMajors ( 995624 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:10PM (#50896305)

    However, I think it will be unlikely that the NSA will comply with the order, and that no one will be able to determine if NSA complied with the order, and if it was found NSA did not comply with the order no one would be punished.

    • Re:compliance (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:34PM (#50896513)

      clearly you know nothing... the director of the NSA can and will be asked to give a sworn testimony to the congress in which he will verify that... there is nothing to see here, move along citizen.

    • However, I think it will be unlikely that the NSA will comply with the order, and that no one will be able to determine if NSA complied with the order, and if it was found NSA did not comply with the order no one would be punished.

      Judges no longer have any authority. The law of the land is only so much confetti. Benjamin Franklin's experiment is in its death throws.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is why it's an interesting case. The legal system has its own ability to compel. As such, it has the ability to protect itself and the class of communications it has that are privileged.

      Sure the people who think that the fourth amendment is an obstacle rather than a law may ignore it but... if any judge elsewhere in the system ever gets wind of it, even years from now, the 'what part of the court order did you not understand?' will get trotted out. Judges tend not to like willful disregard of court ord

  • by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:12PM (#50896325)

    "J.J. Little and his small legal practice"

  • Why he had standing (Score:4, Informative)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday November 09, 2015 @05:34PM (#50896511) Homepage

    What prevents these rulings from happening is usually standing. That is, the plaintiff must have evidence that the NSA was surveilling them in order for the case to go to court at all. In this case, Snowden's documents specifically showed that Verizon customers were being monitored. The original plaintiff added J. J. Little to the case for the specific reason. But it did them little good because the ruling can then only apply to Verizon customers.

    I wonder if they could then make this a class action by enjoining all Verizon customers into the suit.

  • a "small" victory for the "Little" people

  • by Anonymous Coward

    U.S. judge suspected of terrorism went missing today. Circumstances are unclear. Senor officials at the NSA said; we certainly haven't seen him.

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