About Edward Snowden
- EPIC Opposes NSA Plan to Expand Operations Database, Demands Privacy Act Compliance: EPIC submitted comments to the NSA objecting to the agency's proposal to expand its "Operations Records" database. This database is already largely exempt from Privacy Act safeguards, and the proposal would vastly expand the types of information collected in the database and define new routine uses for this information. EPIC's comments addressed the privacy issues raised by the Operations Records database and NSA's proposed changes, opposed further expansion of NSA's information collection activities, and demanded that NSA narrow the Privacy Act exemptions for the system if the proposal goes forward. EPIC has previously urged NSA to conduct information collection activities in compliance with the Privacy Act. (Nov. 23, 2015)
- Court Suspends NSA Phone Record Collection Program : A federal court in Washington D.C. has ordered the National Security Administration to halt the bulk collection of domestic telephone records, ruling that the indiscriminate collection violates the Fourth Amendment. Following the USA Freedom Act, the telephone records program will expire at the end of the month. The government has moved to stay the judge's order. In 2013, EPIC brought the first challenge to the NSA surveillance program in the Supreme Court. EPIC has also testified before Congress on the need to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and led a broad coalition urging the President to end the NSA surveillance program. (Nov. 10, 2015)
- Privacy Groups Urge Ninth Circuit to Find NSA Metadata Program Illegal: EPIC and other privacy groups have filed a friend of the court brief in United States v. Moalin, the first criminal case challenging the NSA's warrantless surveillance of Americans' telephone records. The lower court refused to reopen the case after it was revealed that data acquired by the NSA provided the primary evidence for the criminal conviction. EPIC and other groups argued in their brief that metadata is protected under the Fourth Amendment. EPIC previously argued in Smith v. Obama that "changes in technology and the Supreme Court's recent decision in Riley v. California favor a new legal rule that recognizes the privacy interest inherent in modern communications records." In In re EPIC, EPIC petitioned the Supreme Court to end the NSA's bulk telephone record collection program, which occurred with passage of the USA Freedom Act. (Nov. 5, 2015)
- EPIC Joins Call for Transparency on Number of Americans Caught in NSA Surveillance: EPIC, joined by over 30 other organizations, urged the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to disclose data on how many Americans are caught up in NSA surveillance of foreign targets. Americans’ communications are incidentally collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the FBI searches this data without a warrant or judicial oversight. EPIC, in testimony before Congress and comments to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has repeatedly called for greater oversight and transparency of surveillance authorities. (Nov. 2, 2015)
- D.C. Circuit Reverses Important NSA Surveillance Ruling, Sends the Case Back to Lower Court: A divided panel of the D.C. Circuit has reversed a lower court decision that the NSA bulk metadata collection program violated the Fourth Amendment. The judges in Klayman v. Obama agreed that the plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence that his telephone records were collected. But the majority of the panel agreed that the plaintiff should be allowed to conduct "discovery" to prove standing, and remanded the case to the lower court. In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the NSA surveillance program. (Aug. 29, 2015)
- Intelligence Director Says NSA Access to Bulk Phone Record Data Will End: The Director of National Intelligence announced today that the NSA analysis of "section 215" telephone records previously gathered will end when the USA FREEDOM Act goes into effect on November 29, 2015. Earlier this month, the U.S. Surveillance Court ruled that the NSA could continue collecting records during a 180 day transition period, despite an earlier decision finding the program was unlawful. In 2012, EPIC testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the need to reform the Surveillance Court. In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the NSA surveillance program. (Jul. 27, 2015)
- Surveillance Court Ignores Court Ruling, Reauthorizes NSA Bulk Collection Program: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reauthorized the collection of domestic telephone records for 180 days. The Surveillance Court ignored the recent decision of the Federal Court of Appeals, which held that the NSA bulk collection program is unlawful. In 2012, EPIC testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the need to reform the Surveillance Court. In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the NSA surveillance program. Congress then passed the Freedom Act to end program, but the FISC didn't get the memo. (Jul. 1, 2015)
- Senate Passes FREEDOM Act, Ends NSA Bulk Collection: The Senate has passed the USA FREEDOM Act, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-TX). The Act, which the President is expected to sign, ends the NSA bulk collection of domestic telephone records and establishes new transparency and accountability rules for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In 2012, EPIC testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the need to reform the Surveillance Court. In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the NSA surveillance program. (Jun. 2, 2015)
- Senate to Debate End of PATRIOT Act: The Senate convenes today for a rare Sunday session. Senators will consider whether to renew key provisions of the PATRIOT Act, including the NSA bulk collection program, due to expire tonight. Senator Rand Paul has said he will oppose any renewal. Also under consideration is the FREEDOM Act, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-TX). In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, supported by experts, scholars, and members of the Church Committee, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the program. The Sunday debate will be broadcast live on CSPAN2 at 4 pm EDT. (May. 31, 2015)
- Inspector General Warns: Significant Oversight of Section 215 Required: The DOJ's Office of the Inspector General released a report this month detailing the FBI's use of Section 215 and warning that "significant oversight" is required. The Inspector General describes the FBI's expanding use of 215 to collect electronic information in bulk and criticized the agency for taking seven years to develop minimization procedures. The Second Circuit ruled the NSA's telephone record collection program exceeded the legal authority under Section 215. EPIC previously petitioned the Supreme Court to suspend the program. Unless Congress votes to reauthorize or modify the authority, Section 215 is set to expire on June 1. (May. 21, 2015)
On the evening of June 5, 2013, The Guardian began publishing stories based on internal government documents disclosed by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. The first story published by The Guardian described the NSA’s bulk metadata collection program, which has since been the subject of numerous lawsuits, government reports, and surveillance reform proposals. Under the Bulk Metadata Program, authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Verizon and other major telephone companies were ordered to turn over all telephone call detail records (including the numbers dialed and received, the time, duration, and other identifying information) to the NSA on an ongoing basis.
The second story, published by the Washington Post, described the NSA’s collection of Internet communications directly from major service providers including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Apple, Skype, and AOL. The documents released also described the NSA’s “upstream collection” activity, which involves collecting digital communications directly from the fiber optic facilities that transfer Internet traffic.
Subsequent stories published by The Guardian and the Washington Post have revealed the scope of NSA surveillance activities, including “the capability of recording ‘100 percent’ of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and replay conversations as long as a month after they take place.” The stories also revealed that the NSA has collected millions of Internet address books or “buddy lists,” and has infiltrated the private links between Google and Yahoo! data centers. Both The Guardian and the Washington Post received Pulitzer Prizes in 2014 for their coverage of the NSA story.
As a result of the Snowden revelations, Congress has conducted both public and classified hearings, and has considered reform proposals aimed at ending the bulk collection, increasing transparency, and improving the FISA Court process. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has also released thousands of pages of formerly classified documents, and created a public website to provide ongoing updates and transparency reports. Even the FISA Court, which formerly had no public presence, has created a publicly available website and docket.
Edward Snowden is one of the 2014 recipients of EPIC’s Champion of Freedom Award
- Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Bill Dedman, & Mark Schone, Inside the Mind of Edward Snowden, NBC News (May 28, 2014)
- Eben Moglen, Privacy Under Attack: the NSA Files Revealed New Threats to Democracy, The Guardian (May 27, 2014)
- United States of Secrets, Frontline (PBS) (May 13 & 20, 2014)
- Watch: Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden at The Ridenhour Prizes, National Institute (May 2, 2014)
- A Virtual Conversation with Edward Snowden, SXSW (Mar. 10, 2014)
- Edward Snowden: Here’s How We Take Bake the Internet, TED (Mar. 2014)
- Editorial, Edward Snowden, Whistleblower, N.Y. Times (Jan. 1, 2014)
- Janet Reitman, Snowden and Greenwald: The Men Who Leaked Secrets, Rolling Stone (Dec. 4, 2013)
- Alan Rusbridger, The Snowden Leaks and the Public, N.Y. Review of Books (Nov. 21, 2013)
- Laura Poitras & Glenn Greenwald, NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sorts of things’, The Guardian (June 10, 2013)
- Bruce Schneier, Before Prosecuting Snowden, Investigate the Government, N.Y. Times (June 11, 2013)
- Catalog of the Snowden Revelations, Lawfare
- Glenn Greenwald, No Place To Hide (2014)
- First Look Media, About
- Washington Post (Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani), NSA Program Reaches ‘Into the Past’ to Retrieve, Replay Phone Calls (Mar. 18, 2014)
- Ravi Somaiya, Pulitzer Prizes Awarded for Coverage of NSA Secrets and Boston Bombing, N.Y. Times (Apr. 14, 2014)
- James Bamford, They Know More Than You Think They Know, N.Y. Review of Books (Aug. 15, 2013)
- Washington Post (Barton Gellman), NSA Slides Explain the PRISM Data-collection Program (June 6, 2014) updated June 10, 2014
- The Guardian (Glenn Greenwald), NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Customers Daily (June 5, 2013)
- In re EPIC
- FISA Court Website
- Report on the Telephone Records Program Conducted Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and on the Operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (Jan. 23, 2014)
- Liberty and Security in a Changing World, Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Dec. 12, 2013)
- Eben Moglen, Snowden and the Future (2013)
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