According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a federal court will be viewing one of the worst spying programs by the National Security Association. The case, which involves the “unconstitutional surveillance” program called PRISM, might be able to bring back privacy protections to Americans who use the internet to communicate with loved ones overseas.
In this case, the U.S. government is accusing a man from Brooklyn of “attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist group in Pakistan.” The man pleaded guilty, and the government admitted knowing about his communications from combing through his emails without a warrant.
As a result, the man is challenging the government’s prying and asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the evidence. Groups, including the ACLU, are supporting the man, “arguing that the surveillance was unconstitutional.”
What decision makers should take away from this case:
While the government claims its intentions for sifting through Americans’ communications are to protect its citizens from the bad guys, not everyone is buying it.
For example, one problem with PRISM is that the government claims to use PRISM to target foreigners. But, ACLU argues that’s not the case: “In reality, it [the government] uses PRISM as a backdoor into Americans’ private communications, violating the Fourth Amendment on a massive scale. We don’t know the total number of Americans affected, even today, because the government has refused to provide any estimate.”
As a result, decision makers whose institutions work with customers and colleagues abroad might consider taking extra care when sending out their communications; this even includes Facebook messages and Google chats. It might also be a good idea to prepare key roles in the institution to fight for the Fourth Amendment, in case an institution’s rights are violated, and court action is required.