Davis To Assess Impact Of Recent NSA Data Collection Cases On Privacy
January 10, 2014 No Comments
Stephen Davis will give a presentation to the Cyberspace Law Committee of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar entitled “The NSA’s Mass Data Collection Programs: Split Court Decisions Leave Constitutional Privacy Protections Against Mass Data Collection Uncertain” on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.
In June 2013 former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed to journalists at the Washington Post and the Guardian that the NSA was engaged in mass data collection programs concerning the telephone and Internet usage of American citizens. Those disclosures promptly became front page news and initiated discussions about the proper scope and purpose of such data collection programs. They also sparked the filing of lawsuits challenging the statutory and constitutional validity of the programs.
In December 2013 two federal district courts issued diametrically opposed opinions concerning the constitutionality of the programs. In Klayman, et al. v. Obama, et al., on December 16, 2013, Judge Leon of the District Court for the District of Columbia granted a preliminary injunction against the NSA’s mass telephone metadata collection program, finding that it violated the Fourth Amendment guarantee against unreasonable searches. Eleven days later, however, Judge Pauley of the District Court for the Southern District of New York, in American Civil Liberties Union, et al. v. Clapper, et al., that the government’s mass collection of telephone metadata did not violate the Fourth Amendment.
The conflict among these opinions leaves the constitutionality of the government’s data collection practices uncertain. The respective Circuit Courts that will hear the appeals of these decisions will weigh in on these issues eventually, and there would seem to be a good chance that the United States Supreme Court ultimately will decide whether the NSA’s data collection programs are constitutional. These decisions not only will determine whether these practices continue but also will, in all likelihood, affect the scope and nature of protection of metadata in cyberspace in other areas. Stephen Davis will discuss the opinions of the two court’s concerning the constitutionality of the NSA’s programs under the Fourth Amendment and the implications these and subsequent decisions may have for the degree of privacy given to telephone and Internet metadata.
Davis is a member of the Cyberspace Law Committee and served as co-chair of the Committee during the last term.