The group asked the judge to rule in favor of permanently repealing the practice of secretly keeping phone logs, saying that it is illegal and should be completely blocked.
Nate Cardozo, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that represents the group, wrote in a blog post, “It’s time to end the program, and bulk surveillance, once and for all.”
According to USA Today, in addition to the allegation of the Justice Department gathering data, a practice EFF and other privacy advocates affirm is unconstitutional, the lawsuit also sheds light to the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.
Human Rights Watch said that their records had been “collected, retained, searched, and disseminated without any suspicion of wrongdoing and without any judicial authorization or oversight.”
It further protested that it should have the freedom to make international phone calls without being monitored by the government, and that constantly being watched is a breach to First and Fourth Amendment rights.
Dinah PoKempner, Human Rights Watch General Counsel, said in a statement, “Who we communicate with and when we communicate with them is often extraordinarily sensitive — and it’s information that we would never turn over to the government lightly.”
The database of phone logs exposes sources, especially the ones who have witnessed rights abuses.
“These individuals often fear for their physical safety or their life, and the mere fact of contacting an international human rights organization, like HRW, can put them in harm’s way,” the lawsuit said.
The group also said that because of the surveillance it “cannot assure its associates abroad that their communications records will not be shared with American law enforcement or the government of another country.”
According to Reuters, a former senior DEA official revealed that Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan and other unidentified Central American countries were the primarily targets of the program.
Patrick Rodenbush, Justice Department spokesperson, said on Wednesday, “All of the information has been deleted.
“The agency is no longer collecting bulk telephony metadata from U.S. service providers.”
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