Thursday, August 17, 2006

Federal Judge Rules NSA Program Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, of the Eastern District of Michigan, issued a ruling today that finds that federal warrantless wiretapping program violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Judge found the program in violation of the FISA, Title III, Fourth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the Separation of Powers. She also the no inherent powers, practical justifications, or the Authorization Military Force justify the program.

Judge Diggs:

"...this court is constrained to grant to Plaintiffs the Partial Summary Judgment requested, and holds that the TSP violates the APA; the Separation of Powers doctrine; the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and the statutory law."

"In this case, the President has acted, undisputedly, as FISA forbids. FISA is the expressed statutory policy of our Congress. The presidential power, therefore, was exercised at its lowest ebb and cannot be sustained."

The Judge granted an injunction against the program.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ninth Circuit: No Right to Privacy to Computer at Work

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that an employee in a workplace which has stated that they monitor employee's computer use have no expectation of privacy for their computer.

In a criminal investigation, police gained access to the computer through the employer, without a search warrant. The defendant argued the evidence should not be admissible.
The court agreed with the prosecution, ruling there is not expectation of privacy when the employees have been told that they should not use computers for personal use and that usage was monitored.

The court also cited "social norms."

"Social norms suggest that employees are not entitled to privacy in the use of workplace computers, which belong to their employers and pose significant dangers in terms of diminished productivity and even employer liability," said Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Veterans Affairs Missing Another Computer

According to a Department of Veterans Affairs press release, a subcontractor has lost a desktop computer containing personal information on some veterans

The VA says it was notified on Thursday, August 3, by the subcontractor, Unisys Corporation, that the computer was missing from its Reston, Va., offices.

They estimate the computer held information on 16,000 living patients, with an additional 20,000 a possibility.

The desktop computer apparently contained patients' names, addresses, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, insurance carriers and billing information, dates of military service, and claims data that may include some medical information.

According to the VA, personnel took immediate steps to notify the appropriate senior VA leadership, including the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, appropriate congressional offices and committees, VA's Office of the Inspector General and other law enforcement authorities, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Response Team.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

AT&T, Department of Justice, Appeal to Ninth Circuit

AT&T is appealing the decision not dissmiss the EFF's suit against it to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing over the company's alleged provision of personal customer information to the NSA.

AT&T and the federal government moved to dismmiss the suit, on the grounds that a trial would reveal classified information, and that AT&T is protected from lawsuits when cooperating with the goveernment. The motion was denied.

Judge Walker wrote that "dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security."

AT&T wrote:

"If the state secrets privilege was properly invoked by the United States, then plaintiffs cannot prove that they were injured by the government's intelligence activities or AT&T's alleged involvement in those activities, because they would be unable to obtain any information concerning the identities of government surveillance targets. If the named plaintiffs cannot prove that their information has been divulged to the government, they cannot establish that they have suffered any injury whatsoever from the alleged surveillance program and their complaint must be dismissed."

The Justice Department wrote:

"The decision on whether to grant access to classified information rests with the Executive Branch, and any order by the Court appointing such an expert to review and assess the status of classified information would raise profound separation of powers concerns that should be avoided."