EFF Sues DOJ For Decryption Orders Against Tech Companies

Following the Apple vs FBI debacle, the EFF is suing the Department of Justice to find out if tech companies have ever been forced to decrypt user data.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo said, “If the government is obtaining FISC orders to force a company to build backdoors or decrypt their users’ communications, the public has a right to know about those secret demands to compromise people’s phones and computers, The government should not be able to conscript private companies into weakening the security of these devices, particularly via secret court orders.”

From the press release: “… [it] is unclear to what extent the government has sought or obtained similar orders from the FISC. The FISC operates mostly in secret and grants nearly every government surveillance request it receives.”

Apparently, the government has attempted to obtain FISC orders to force companies to cough up their source code so security vulnerabilities could be found and exploited for surveillance purposes.

The EFF is also suing to “force the government to comply with the USA FREEDOM Act” and – according to the FOIA filing – is requesting significant or novel FISC opinions and orders.

One of the intents of the Act was to increase the transparency of the FISC and that requires significant interpretations of law by the FISA court to be declassified.

However, according to the EFF, the government argues that this only applies to decisions made after the law was passed but EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mark Rumold counters that argument saying: “… The government’s narrow interpretation of its transparency obligations under USA FREEDOM is inconsistent with the language of the statute and Congress’ intent, Congress wanted to bring an end to secret surveillance law, so it required that all significant FISC opinions be declassified and released. Our lawsuit seeks to hold DOJ accountable to the law.”

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