Human rights campaigners have prepared a federal lawsuit aiming to permanently shut down the bulk collection of billions of US phone records – not, this time, by the National Security Agency, but by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Human Rights Watch, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filed their lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court on Wednesday morning to stop the DEA from hoovering up billions of records of Americans’ international calls without a warrant.
The reach of the program, exposed by USA Today, lasted for two decades and served as a template for the NSA’s gigantic and ongoing bulk surveillance of US phone data after 9/11.
Though US officials insist the DEA is now out of the bulk-collection business, the revelation of mass phone-records collection in the so-called “war on drugs” raises new questions about whether the Obama administration or its successors believe US security agencies continue to have legal leeway for warrantless bulk surveillance on American citizens, even as officials forswear those powers publicly.
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