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Idaho woman appeals NSA surveillance lawsuit

Published: Monday, July 21, 2014 2:18 p.m. CDT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are joining in a northern Idaho's woman appeal over the National Security Agency's collection of cellphone information.

Anna Smith of Coeur d'Alene sued the NSA last year, contending that the agency's collection of the data amounts to an illegal search and seizure, prohibited under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In June, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said Smith had the right to sue but that she wouldn't prevail under current court precedent. As a result, Winmill dismissed the lawsuit, but he also noted that the issue may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Smith has appealed her case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The national ACLU, the ACLU of Idaho and the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced last week that they were joining in Smith's case. Both the ACLU and Electronic Frontier have been part of lawsuits over the same issue in other states.

"The call records program needlessly invades the privacy of millions of people," ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a prepared statement. "Even the President has acknowledged that the NSA does not need to collect information about every phone call in order to track the associations of suspected terrorists. Dragnet surveillance on this scale is both unconstitutional and unnecessary."

Smith, a nurse, is being represented by state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, and Smith's husband, Peter J. Smith IV. She assumed she was being monitored because she had a Verizon cellphone and because the calls of vast numbers of Americans were collected, Malek said earlier this year.

The NSA has said it collects the phone numbers of calls made and received and how long a call lasts, but the agency contends it does not monitor the contents of a call. Smith countered that her cellphone is her primary means of communication with family, friends, doctors and others, and that her phone calls are none of the government's business.

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