Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Big Loss for Big Brother: Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Government on Mass Surveillance

Friday, May 8, 2015

Big Loss for Big Brother:  Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Government on Mass Surveillance

On May 7, 2015, in a significant victory for Americans’ right to privacy and the rule of law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of ACLU v. Clapper, which challenged the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. While the plaintiffs raised various claims, the court ultimately ruled that the provision of law the government claimed enabled the mass surveillance program did not confer that authority. According to the court’s opinion, “the text of § 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and … it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.” Your NRA had participated in the case by filing friend of the court briefs at different stages of the proceedings. We have also supported legislation to curtail the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of American citizens.

As described by the court’s opinion, the information captured under the program concerns “details about telephone calls, including, for example, the length of a call, the phone number from which the call was made, and the phone number called.” Additionally, “Metadata can … reveal the user or device making or receiving a call through unique ‘identity numbers’ associated with the equipment … and provide information about the routing of a call through the telephone network, which can sometimes … convey information about a caller’s general location.” Analysis of this information, even without listening to the content of the calls, can reveal detailed information about the parties to the call, including civil, political, or religious affiliations; social status and networks; and even possession of certain items.

The NRA argued in its briefs that NSA’s data collection program violates the First Amendment rights of NRA members by potentially chilling their willingness to communicate.  It also asserted that the NSA program could be used to circumvent statutory protections barring the federal government from collecting gun ownership records.  While the court did not resolve the case on those grounds, the breadth of opposition to the program from across the political and ideological spectrums likely underscored to the court the gravity and scope of the privacy violations at issue.

Since the litigation began, media reports – often citing accounts from whistleblowers formerly associated with U.S. intelligence agencies – have accused the federal government of far more intrusive practices against Americans who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing. This includes capturing and storing the actual content of digital communications (including cell phone calls and e-mails) and developing programs to automatically transcribe audio communications, the better to conduct keyword searches of them. Whatever the full extent of the modern surveillance state under Barack Obama may actually be, it’s clear that the very government which is supposed to serve the people treats those same people as inherently suspicious and in need of monitoring. A more backward view of America’s constitutional order is hard to imagine.

One of the fundamental flaws behind most types of gun control is that it purports to punish “the bad guys” by focusing its restrictions primarily on the good guys. The same defect applies to the practice of capturing huge amount of information about Americans, their communications, and their activities on the off-chance it might later prove useful when targeting a legitimate threat. Not only does this violate lawful citizens’ expectations of privacy, it can chill lawful conduct and the exercise of constitutionally protected freedoms, and it conflicts with American values as reflected in the Constitution and laws of our land.

We will continue to report on further developments in this important, unfolding story. While Big Brother is indeed watching, NRA is committed to ensuring that your Second Amendment choices and activities remain shielded from his gaze.

TRENDING NOW
Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

During a July 21 CNN “presidential town hall,” Joe Biden expressed his support for a ban on commonly-owned handguns. Responding to a question about the recent increase in violent crime, the career politician stated,

Great Expectations, Empty Promises: Gun Control in Washington State

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Great Expectations, Empty Promises: Gun Control in Washington State

For years, voters in the Evergreen State have been assured that if only they approve certain gun control ballot initiatives, they would “save lives” and reduce crime. The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), the organization pushing ...

How Anti-Gun Research Works

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

How Anti-Gun Research Works

The objective world mistrusts most gun policy research because it’s clear the objective is to produce an anti-gun outcome rather than honest analysis. Politicians and professional activists claim the mantle of evidence but will ignore ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner Ignores Violent Crime While Playing Politics with Gun Owners

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner Ignores Violent Crime While Playing Politics with Gun Owners

Similar to many other urban areas of the country, St. Louis saw a dramatic increase in homicide in 2020. The Gateway to the West’s homicide rate per 100 thousand residents exploded from 64.5 in 2019 to 87.2 in 2020. The homicide ...

Students “School” Antigun Education Officials on Civil Rights, Receive Large Settlements in Court Cases

News  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Students “School” Antigun Education Officials on Civil Rights, Receive Large Settlements in Court Cases

Last September we reported on the saga of Ka'Mauri Harrison, a Louisiana elementary school student who was suspended for having a BB gun that happened to come into view while the fourth grader was participating in online ...

Louisiana: Betrayal at the Capitol

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Louisiana: Betrayal at the Capitol

Yesterday, SB 118, Constitutional Carry, was defeated due to several Senators reversing their initial vote of support on the bill.  Two of the Senators who flip-flopped were Senators Patrick Connick (SD-8) and Louie Bernard (SD-31). 

NRA-ILA Applauds Rep. Claudia Tenney and U.S. House of Representatives’ Amicus Brief Supporting Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

NRA-ILA Applauds Rep. Claudia Tenney and U.S. House of Representatives’ Amicus Brief Supporting Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided to hear the NRA-ILA backed case challenging New York’s restrictive concealed-carry-licensing regime. NRA-ILA’s opening brief is located here.

Forty-Three Amicus Briefs Filed In Support OF NRA-ILA Backed Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Forty-Three Amicus Briefs Filed In Support OF NRA-ILA Backed Second Amendment Case Before Supreme Court

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided to hear the NRA-ILA backed case challenging New York’s restrictive concealed-carry-licensing regime. And just last week, NRA-ILA filed the opening brief in this crucial case, which is located here.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.