The Government Can't Be Sued for Secret Spying It Keeps Secret

Mesut Dogan/Shutterstock.com

A fresh bit of Kafka from the Supreme Court today: Since you can never be sure if the government is secretly spying on you, you can never sue the government for spying on you. And because unless you were actually spied upon by the government, you cannot sue to keep other citizens from being spied on by the government. And you can't know if you were spied on by the government because the government doesn't have to tell you if it spied on your communication.

This legal Möbius strip began in 2008, when Congress expanded the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act codifying the government's ability to initiate a wiretap on a foreign national suspected of involvement of terrorism. It was a bit belated; three years prior, the New York Times revealed that the Feds were already doing this. Since the surveillance occurred without a public warrant, privacy groups like the ACLU and Amnesty International sued to stop the practice, fearing that U.S. citizens, protected under the Fourth Amendment from unreasonable search and seizure, would also be caught in the government's system. This morning, in a 5-4 vote led by its conservative members, the Court declined to hear that lawsuit.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire

(Image via Mesut Dogan/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.