ACLU v. DOJ (Policy on Government Spying)
If the government never told you that it had spied on you, you’d never be able to challenge the search or stop it from happening again. You’d be stuck essentially having to trust that if the government searched your emails or other belongings, it had good reason to and was acting lawfully. But the federal government has a long history of abusing its surveillance powers.
On June 21, 2017, the ACLU sued the U.S. Department of Justice to find out more about the circumstances under which the government thinks it can spy on Americans without telling them.
The government could be interpreting its duty to give notice too narrowly, and the public deserves to know. Late last year, the Justice Department distributed a 31-page memorandum describing its new notice policy — which affects both criminal and foreign-intelligence wiretaps — to federal prosecutors. The government, however, refused to release any portion of this memorandum. So the ACLU is suing to get it.
The ACLU challenge seeks important information about Section 702 of FISA, a spying statute that is set to expire this year. Its renewal is currently up for debate in Congress. Information about how the Justice Department interprets its legal obligations is necessary for Congress and the public to have an informed debate about the merits of the law.
If the Government Spied on You, How Would You Know? (June 21, 2017)