ACLU suing U.S. gov't over NSA-Verizon data collection methods

Summary:The non-profit is citing its stance as a Verizon customer to give its complaint against the NSA some credence.

The firestorm surrounding the National Security Agency over its data collection actions and policies has gotten even bigger.

This time, it's going back to what started the debacle: the discovery last Wednesday that the agency has been collecting millions of Verizon Wireless customer records and call data on a daily basis.

Now, the American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit against the Federal Government over its "dragnet acquisition" of telephone records from Verizon Business Network Services.

The non-profit organization filed the complaint at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday.

The defendants listed in the suit are National Intelligence director James Clapper, NSA director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel, FBI director Robert Mueller, and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Lawyers for the ACLU certainly didn't mince words in the 12-page filing, lambasting the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patriot Act, in particular.

Here's a snippet regarding the NSA's involvement with Verizon:

The practice is akin to snatching every American’s address book—with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we talked, for how long, and from where. It gives the government a comprehensive record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.

The ACLU also cited its stance as a Verizon customer to give its complaint some extra credence, arguing further that the NSA's data collection methods violate the First and Fourth Amendments.

The government’s surveillance of their communications (hereinafter “Mass Call Tracking”) allows the government to learn sensitive and privileged information about their work and clients, and it is likely to have a chilling effect on whistleblowers and others who would otherwise contact Plaintiffs for legal assistance.

To check out the entire complaint, scroll through the document below:


Topics: Government : US, Data Management, Legal, Mobility, Verizon


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider,, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for, Irish Americ... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.