A US federal appeals court has given the American government the green light for warrantless wiretapping. That means authorities can now spy on communications between American citizens without any warrants — and without fear of being sued.
The ruling came on Tuesday, Wired reports, in the process reversing the original ruling from the first and only case to successfully challenge the Terrorist Surveillance Program. A three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals wrote [PDF]:
“This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the executive branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization.”
The case centered around two American attorneys who struggled — but managed — to prove they were spied on without warrants. The court ruled that the pair could “bring a suit for damages against the United States for use of the collected information” but were unable to “bring suit against the government for collection of the information itself”. Speaking to Wired, Jon Eisenberg, the lawyer working on behalf of the two attorneys, explained:
“This case was the only chance to litigate and hold anybody accountable for the warrantless wiretapping program. As illegal as it was, it evaded accountability.”
This means that from today the US government can happily spy on anybody’s communications without warrants or fear of the consequences. But you didn’t hear that from us. [Wired]
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