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ProPublica Files Motion to Release Court Rulings Authorizing NSA Phone Surveillance

Seeking Judicial Rationale on Collection of Phone and Web Records

New York, N.Y. — Nov. 12, 2013 — ProPublica is filing a motion today in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the release of various court opinions that provide the judicial rationale for the federal government’s secret collection of telephone metadata. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is acting as ProPublica’s pro bono counsel in this matter.

The motion follows ProPublica’s extensive reporting on the National Security Agency’s collection of phone and web records and its efforts to undermine the encryption that protects the privacy of everyday Internet communications.

“It’s critical for the court to publicly provide the rationale that allows this unprecedented government secrecy,” said ProPublica President Richard Tofel. “The public has a First Amendment right to see and understand its opinions, and we hope this motion will persuade the court to release more of them.”

The national ACLU, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School filed a similar motion last week, but Jane E. Kirtley, formerly executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said ProPublica’s motion might be more effective on this particular issue. “Federal judges routinely find that news media entities have standing to assert the public’s First Amendment right of access to court records and proceedings,” said Kirtley, now the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.“The FISC therefore may be more likely to find standing on the part of a news organization to seek disclosure in such situations. And it may give an extra level of consideration to reach the First Amendment issues if a news organization is among the requesters.”

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. In 2010, it was the first online news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize. In 2011, ProPublica won its second Pulitzer, the first ever awarded to a body of work that did not appear in print. In 2013, ProPublica won a Peabody Award. ProPublica is supported primarily by philanthropy and provides the articles it produces, free of charge, both through its own website and often to leading news organizations selected with an eye toward maximizing the impact of each article. For more information, please visit www.ProPublica.org.

Photo by flickr user sparkieblues http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkieblues/3971258497/

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