Activist attorney and former government prosecutor Larry Klayman filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website], challenging the government's recently revealed phone data collection. Klayman, founder of the political advocacy group Freedom Watch [advocacy website], claims the surveillance practices violate citizens' reasonable expectation of privacy, their rights to free speech and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, due process rights, as well as certain common law claims. The complaint names the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites], US President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and 12 communications and Internet companies as defendants and seeks $23 billion in damages.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites] on Tuesday filed a similar suit [JURIST report] against the NSA. Klayman filed the first private suit [text, PDF] the day prior, in a separate lawsuit against Verizon and the Obama administration, requesting the same orders as his second suit in addition to $3 billion in damages. Although the president and top officials have defended the surveillance as a lawful counterterrorism measure, several US lawmakers have called [JURIST report] for a review of the government's surveillance activity in light of recent reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring. Lawmakers have also called for a criminal investigation into the activities of Edward Snowden, who came forward [Guardian report] on Sunday as the whistleblower in the NSA surveillance scandal. Snowden is a 29-year-old former CIA technical worker that accessed the surveillance files when he was contracted as a civilian to work on projects for the NSA. He stated in an interview with The Guardian that he released the material because he believed the surveillance violated the right to privacy. Congressman Peter King (R-NY) [official website] called [press release] for the arrest of Snowden, who is now seeking asylum and is allegedly missing in Hong Kong.