The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

David Sobel
Senior Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Demands Public Release of FBI Surveillance Rules

Lawsuit Seeks Disclosure of Guidelines Governing Investigations of Americans


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the
Department of Justice today, demanding the public release of the
surveillance guidelines that govern investigations of Americans by the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI's Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines went into
effect in December of 2008 and detail the Bureau's procedures and
standards for implementing the Attorney General's Guidelines on
approved surveillance strategies.

"The Attorney General's Guidelines are troubling, allowing for open
investigative 'assessments' of any American without factual basis or
reasonable suspicion," said EFF Senior Counsel David Sobel. "The
withholding of the Operational Guidelines compounds our concerns.
Americans have the right to know the basic surveillance policies used
by federal investigators and how their privacy is -- or is not -- being

The FBI's general counsel has acknowledged that "the expansion of
techniques available [to the Bureau] has raised privacy and civil
liberties concerns." Investigations can include the electronic
collection of information from online sources and computer databases,
as well as the use of grand jury subpoenas to obtain telephone and
email subscriber information. Other recent policy changes allow the FBI
to engage in free-ranging investigation of Internet sites, libraries,
and religious institutions.

EFF's lawsuit comes after the Department of Justice failed to
respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a complete
copy of the Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines. The suit
demands the immediate release of the guidelines, as they are being
withheld in violation of federal law.

"These policies have been in effect for more than six months and
could have great impact on ordinary Americans' lives," said Sobel. "The
FBI must follow the law and release these guidelines to the public."

For the full complaint:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development. EFF's mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.

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