The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) thinks so. Back in 2008, the organization filed lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) to put the kibosh on spy program created during the presidency of Bush the younger. In it, former AT&T technician Mark Klein claimed that in cities across the county--Seattle included--the NSA was operating "secure rooms" where the agency was allegedly conducting surveillance on customer's online activities. The initial lawsuit was tossed out by the judge. But now EFF is taking another crack.
A government agency operating a clandestine and possibly illegal operation to analyze instant message chats might seem like the stuff of mediocre Will Smith movies. But only if you haven't read Washington Post's excellent series on the rapid buildup of the government's intelligence sector, and how every day people with higher security clearance than you can ever expect to have go to work at top-secret government facilities spread out across the country.
Asked if the EFF believes that these "secure rooms" are still in operation five years after then-President Bush instituted the controversial program, EFF spokesperson Rebecca Jescheke, via email, says, "Yes--no one has said they aren't."
That's apparently why the EFF has petitioned the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the case, arguing that the lower court's decision was legally unsound. In January, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker dismissed the suit, arguing that because the program affected so many people, no one plaintiff, or group of plaintiffs, had sustained significant enough injury to bring a claim.
The EFF now argues in its brief that, "Unless corrected, the District Court's ruling risks creating a perverse incentive for the government to violate the privacy rights of as many citizens as possible in order to avoid judicial review of its actions."