In this essay I will discuss about two main administrative bodies of United States, namely, the
The National Security Agency (NSA) has Head Quarters in Fort Meade,
Maryland. It is responsible to collect, process, decode and translate intelligence information
gathered from electronic foreign sources for intelligence purpose and to support internal military
operations. The concept of NSA came in picture in war against Germany during World War I
where it was used to gather information, which helped the army to prepare adequately before the
war. NSA is also aligned to prevent foreign entities to gain access to national security
Information. EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is responsible for protecting Law, Freedom
and Piracy. The EFF regulatory body defends and brings suits at all the levels of the US judiciary
system, to ensure and maintain its objectives and goals. It provides funds for the defense
prosecutions and advices the governmental organizations and the court.
Reports in the year 2005 showed that the NSA has been trying to intercept Americans’ domestic
Internet communications and phone Calls. In addition to that, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
received an indication from an ex- AT&T technician, that AT&T is also involved in this
illegal surveillance. The documents revealed that AT&T installed a fiber optic splitter channel at
its facility to copy all the emails, web browsing and other Internet activities to and from AT&T
customers and provided the same to NSA. These documents had full information about the
domestic as well as international activities of AT&T customers. The program included the well
known PRISM, in which the NSA with the assistance of other service providers like,
Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft initiated to collect information’s like search history,
contents of emails, live chats and file transfers. The efforts further included to manipulate
Technology like, SSL, which is used to protect millions of payment websites, including banks
and other financial institutions to track all the transactions. In response to that, EFF launched two
against The AT&T to assist that spying, which was again nullified after Congress gave active
immunity to the internet service providers. In the year 2013, after the leaked Government reports
came in the “Guardian and The Washington Post”, The EFF came up with a third suit,
Unitarian Church v. NSA, which challenges the composition of the NSA's domestic phone
records.NSA outlook in this case was like it is only working on cause of protecting and
stopping terrorist activities within the country.
Jewel v. NSA lawsuit filed by EFF challenges an illegal way of tracking customer calls and
Internet activities conducted by NSA with help of AT&T.The most important goal of this suit is
lawsuit also states the Government has "indiscriminately obtained, and stored the telephone
communications information of millions of ordinary Americans as part of the Associational
Tracking Program." This suit also demanded compensation benefits not only from the
Government, also from the individuals responsible for this activity. The suit emphasized on
wiretaps on terrorist which is again a common ground of a realization between the EFF and
NSA. In the year 2006, suing AT&T was realized as the fastest way to stop illegal surveillance,
but the Congress interfered with this matter and the telecom companies got an active immunity.
The Court, although agreed the Government will review all the records and decide to withhold or
not. The whole of NSA chose to be silent on this matter as they cited to have done that because
of National security.
EFF then filed a new suit named; First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA to challenge the
tracking of telephone records. When the Government has the phone records of activist
organizations and their members, it has the entire information about the calls
like, duration, timings etc. So it will have a clear idea about each and everything which
will discourage people to get associated with these organizations when they know that
everything is getting tracked by the government.
The two suits filed by EFF are complementary to each other. The former points at the
Government and its agency, NSA and the latter points to the service provider like, AT&T to
provide clarification for this non-constitutional and illegal activity.
Now the question is about AT&T.Why to sue them?? According to EFF they violated the
laws, rights of customers, by assisting in this illegal activity. This program would not be possible
without their support. They should have followed the laws, not orders from the Government.
NSA is completely illegal as it violates some clauses of the Constitution.
.Violation of Fourth Amendment to the constitution.
. Violation of First Amendment to the constitution.
.Violation of Administrative Procedure Act.
Violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers etc..
Privacy is a general and the primary right for any citizen across all countries. In order to protect
rights of citizens, EFF started protesting against the working methodology of Government.
what happened on 9/11.
According to me as the goal of both these agencies are quite common, namely, EFF and NSA,
should sit together and negotiate on this matter. They need to find a proper way to track all the
illegal activities through the Internet and phone in such a manner that it does not violate any of
the clause from the constitution or basic citizen rights. There should be a perfect balance between
finding out the terrorists and terrifying the local public .After what happened on 9/11, vigilance
has become an important issue to which nobody can deny, but it does not mean to hamper normal
and basic rights of the citizens itself. I do not have problem taping things like, social networking
sites which are actively being used for terrorism. But tapping of phones calls or manipulating
with SSL which is being used in payment sites by banks are not worth at all. There should be a
limit and restrictions. They should only track calls and activities generating from a suspicious
source rather than involving innocent citizens. The Government should lay out proper policies like,
whom to tap?, when to tap?, where to tap? Specially the financial information’s land or leaked,
can create big problems and will encourage criminal activities. Moreover, if the mass is scared
government should have enough confidence in its defense mechanism to stay away from any
such activities. It should properly train its defense personnel to fight against all kinds of
terrorism. They should put undue pressure on common public by tracking them as it is not at all
good for a healthy society. Now, the most important part like in the future if they try to
replicate the same kind of incident they should first take a consent from the public and go
forward with it. One important note for EFF, that they should provide a space to government
agencies as security is a vital issue and before putting anything up in front of the Court they
should sit back and discuss accordingly. Many terrorist activities can be monitored and stopped
at the grass root level if people are aware enough. The Government should start and continue
camps which can aware people about terrorism and should not work with an attitude of
negligence and ignorance. I am quite sure that if people are aware enough,
then it is not required to track or trace anything.
Thus, to sum up both these organizations should work together and sort out the differences
between them as it is not helping either of them. To build a healthy society they should abide by
the laws of the country to ensure that the citizens enjoys their rights fully without any
Compromisation.The NSA and the EFF should discuss with Government about some alternative
solution which neither breaches the Constitution nor any rights. The NSA can still continue
phone calls tapping to an extent, where it does not create panic among citizens. Moreover, The
NSA and Government should maintain proper secrecy of internal information and avoid
leakages, which had happened already in the past. Confidentiality and Integrity should be given
utmost priority. If they can really accomplish that, it can break the ice between these two and
will ease the current deadlock.
1. Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas.”Common Ground: Balance needed in government surveillance”. << http://www.usatoday.com>> 30 October 2013 Web.
2. Martha Mendoza. “Coalition sues to halt electronic surveillance”.<<news.yahoo.com>> 16 July 2013 Web.
3. Adam Zolkover. “Finding Common Ground on NSA Surveillance”. <<http://www.instituteforcivility.org>> 27 January 2014 Web.
4. The Associated Press. “S.F.'s Electronic Frontier Foundation sues to halt electronic surveillance”.<< http://www.sfexaminer.com>> 17 July 2013 Web.
5. Bill Blum. “Reining in the NSA”. << http://www.callawyer.com>> February 2014 Web.
6. Josh Feldman. “Stop Watching Us”.<< http://www.mediaite.com>> 24 October 2014. Web
7. Dan Auerbach and Kurt Opsahl. “Crucial Unanswered Questions about the NSA's BULLRUN Program”.<< www.eff.org>> 9 September 2013.Web