NSA Building

Smith v. Obama – Challenge to NSA Mass Call-Tracking Program

Last Update: December 1, 2016

What's at Stake

The ACLU has joined a lawsuit brought by an Idaho nurse challenging the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s mass collection of Americans’ phone records.

Anna Smith, an emergency neonatal nurse, filed her suit shortly after the government confirmed revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting Americans’ telephone records in bulk under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Smith argues the NSA’s call-records program violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights by collecting a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate associations.

Smith’s case was dismissed in June 2014 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. The ACLU, the ACLU of Idaho, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation joined Smith’s legal team ahead of her appeal to the Ninth Circuit in July 2014.

In March 2016, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Smith’s challenge to the continued collection of her call records was moot, as the USA Freedom Act had ended that collection. It remanded the case to the district court, however, for consideration of Smith’s challenge to the government’s continued retention of her call records.

The ACLU successfully challenged the legality of the NSA’s call-records program in ACLU v. Clapper. And it is currently challenging the legality of the program in United States v. Moalin, the only criminal case in which the government has relied on evidence obtained or derived from the program.

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