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Cybersecurity expert: ruling on surveillance program ‘extraordinarily significant’

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Indiana University Maurer School of Law professor Fred Cate heralded the decision handed down Dec. 16 by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon as possibly landing a crippling blow to the federal government’s surveillance program.

The judge found the National Security Agency’s collection of metadata from billions of Americans’ phone calls to be unconstitutional. He ruled the surveillance program on virtually all calls made by customers of major U.S. phone companies violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.

Cate, who also directs the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, said by finding a constitutional violation, Leon made it considerably harder for Congress or the Obama administration to resurrect the program with operational or legislative changes.

“This is an extraordinarily significant decision,” Cate said, “and while it is certain to be appealed and so (this) is just the beginning of a longer process, it raises the bar for government surveillance today, and I suspect we will look back at this decision in the future as marking a key turning point in re-establishing some balance between the rights of people and the power of our government.”

Earlier in 2013, Cate authored an amicus brief in support of the effort by the Electronic Privacy Information Center to get the Supreme Court of the United States to curtail the surveillance activities by issuing a writ of mandamus. The high court decided a month ago not to consider EPIC’s petition.

Leon questioned the government’s claims about the importance of metadata collection for national security, and he rejected the administration’s argument about the limited role of courts. 

In its filings, the government had argued that individuals whose data was being collected had no right to challenge the constitutionality of the surveillance because Congress had granted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court exclusive jurisdiction over such cases but had only permitted the government to appear before that secret court.

Leon held a citizen’s right to judicial review should not be cut off because the government wants its actions to remain secret.

Cate pointed out the government has been making the same arguments in response to the numerous challenges to sweeping surveillance activities.

“Those arguments are shocking in their breadth and disingenuousness – namely, that even if the American public has had its rights violated, there is not way to seek remedy,” the Maurer professor said. “Judge Leon properly rejected those arguments outright.”

 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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