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Public Advocate Appointed by FISA Court Declares PRISM Surveillance Unconstitutional

TechDirt: “On [April 19, 2016], the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released some redacted versions of three previously secret FISA Court rulings. There are a few interesting things in them, but one notable point, found in a ruling from last November regarding the NSA’s 702 PRISM program, is that the FISC took advantage of the provision in the USA Freedom Act to appoint a public advocate to argue on behalf of the public. One of the big complaints in the past, is that the FISA Court is no court at all. Only one side — the government — gets to present its case, and then the judges decide.  The USA Freedom Act, however, added the ability of the FISC [United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] to appoint a public advocate. Many have been quite reasonably skeptical about this — in terms of how often it would be used, who would be appointed and how seriously the FISC would take the public advocate. In this case, we see that the public advocate did, in fact, argue that parts of the PRISM program were unconstitutional… and the FISC then rejected that. In this case, the court appointed Amy Jeffress, a former federal prosecutor and DOJ official — which might make some skeptical of her willingness to actually advocate for the public — however, this ruling shows that she did, in fact argue that the program was unconstitutional (her actual arguments have not been released).”

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