University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name In re Motion for Declaratory Judgment of a First Amendment Right to Publish Aggregate Information about FISA Orders [FISA Docket Misc. 13-03 (Google)] NS-DC-0021
Docket / Court Misc. 13-03 ( FISC )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Internet Metadata
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Case Summary
For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA Matters, see our special collection.

In June 2013, several major newspapers, including the Guardian (London) and the Washington Post, ... read more >
For the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collection of FISA Matters, see our special collection.

In June 2013, several major newspapers, including the Guardian (London) and the Washington Post, reported on the National Security Agency's intelligence collection programs based on the classified documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Both the Guardian and the Post included reports that U.S. internet companies were allowing the NSA to tap directly into their central servers.

Several of the companies complained that the newspaper reports mischaracterized their relationship with the NSA. Those companies asserted that the NSA did not have any direct access to servers, but rather obtained access to communications based on both court orders entered under one of a variety of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provisions, and administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI, also known as National Security Letters (NSLs). On June 11, 2013, Google requested the Department of Justice and the FBI permit Google to publish aggregate numbers regarding the receipt of NSLs from the NSA and FBI. The request was refused.

Several providers filed suit against the United States in the FISA Court, seeking a declaratory judgment permitting them to publish aggregate data about orders or directives they received under FISA or the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). On June 18, 2013, Google, Inc. moved for declaratory judgment under the First Amendment to publish the number of FISA requests it receives and the number of users or accounts encompassed within such requests. On June 19, Microsoft followed suit and moved for declaratory judgment. Meanwhile, numerous amici curiae filed briefs in the case, including numerous United States Congressional Representatives, several First Amendment organizations, and news corporations.

On September 9, 2013, Google and Microsoft filed amended motions for declaratory judgment in Dockets Misc. 13-03 and 13-04, respectively. Simultaneously, Yahoo! and Facebook, filed motions for declaratory judgment in Dockets Misc. 13-05 and 13-06, respectively. Given the overlap in issues, the court consolidated the cases. Shortly thereafter on September 17, LinkedIn Corporation filed a motion for declaratory judgment under Docket Misc. 13-07, which the court also consolidated with the other dockets. Dropbox and Apple filed amicus briefs.

On September 30, 2013, the government filed a response, arguing that the transparency the providers were requesting would be adverse to the security interests of the United States, informing terrorist organizations and others where the U.S. intelligence agencies were focusing their efforts.

On the joint motion of the parties, the court then issued a stay of the proceedings until late October 2013, due to the shutdown of the federal government because Congress had failed to pass an appropriations bill. The petitioner-providers moved to strike the ex parte part of the response, in which the government had submitted classified information for the court to review in camera. Thereafter, the parties moved for a partial stay until late December 2013.

On January 27, 2014, the United States informed the court that it would permit the petitioners to publish the aggregate data at issue, and the Director of National Intelligence declassified the aggregate data. The parties stipulated to the dismissal of the actions without prejudice.

Elizabeth Homan - 03/23/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Reporting
Warrant/order for search or seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Confidentiality
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Search policies
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action FISA Title VII targeting order (Sections 702, 703, 704), 50 U.S.C. 1881a, 1881b, 1881c
FISA Title V order (PATRIOT Act § 215, business records or other tangible things), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1861-1862
FISA Title IV order (pen register/trap-and-trace), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1841-1846
FISA Title III Warrant (Physical Search), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1821-1829
FISA Title I Warrant (Electronic Surveillance), 50 U.S.C. §§ 1801-1812
Defendant(s) United States
United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Google, an internet services provider; Microsoft Corporation, an electronic communication services and remote computing storage provider; Yahoo!, Inc., an electronic communications and internet services provider; Facebook, Inc, an electronic communications service provider and social media website; and LinkedIn, an electronic communications service provider and social media website.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing NS-DC-0022 : In re Motion to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders [FISA Docket Misc. 13-04 (Microsoft Corporation)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0023 : In re Motion for Declaratory Judgment to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders and Directives [FISA Docket Misc. 13-05 (Yahoo!, Inc.)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0024 : In re Motion for Declaratory Judgment to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders and Directives [FISA Docket Misc. 13-06 (Facebook, Inc.)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0025 : In re Motion for Declaratory Judgment to Report Aggregated Data Regarding FISA Orders [FISA Docket Misc. 13-07 (LinkedIn Corporation)] (FISC)
NS-DC-0020 : In re Orders Issued by This Court Interpreting Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act [FISA Docket Misc. 13-02] (FISC)
Additional Resources
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Links Guest Post: New Resource — Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse FISA Archives
Just Security
Posted: Jun. 26, 2014
By: Margo Schlanger
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Microsoft Corporation's Motion for Declaratory Judgment or Other Appropriate Relief Authorizing Disclosure of Aggregate Data Regarding Any FISA Orders It Has Received 06/19/2013
NS-DC-0021-0023.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order [Informing Government of Timetable to Bar Potentially Classified Information from Public] 06/20/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Response of the United States to the Court's Order Dated June 20, 2013 06/25/2013
NS-DC-0021-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order [Granting Government's Consent Motion for Extension of Time] 07/03/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0024.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of First Amendment Coalition, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Techfreedom as Amici Curiae in Support of the Motion for Declaratory Judgment 07/08/2013
NS-DC-0021-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Brief of Amici Curiae The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, ABC, Inc., The Associated Press, Bloomberg L.P., Dow Jones & Company, Inc., Gannett CO., Inc., Los Angeles 07/15/2013
NS-DC-0021-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Motion for Declaratory Judgment of Google Inc.'s First Amendment Right to Publish Aggregate Information about FISA Orders 07/18/2013
NS-DC-0021-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order [Allowing 3 different motions for parties filing to become Amici Curiae] 07/18/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order [setting Timetable for Microsoft and Google to Provide Amended Response to Government] 09/04/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
[Motion for Declaratory Judgment by Facebook] 09/09/2013
NS-DC-0021-0021.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Yahoo!'s Motion for Declaratory Judgment to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders and Directives 09/09/2013
NS-DC-0021-0022.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Microsoft Corporation's First Amended Motion for Declaratory Judgment or Other Appropriate Relief Authorizing Disclosure of Aggregate Data Regarding any FISA Orders It Has Received 09/09/2013
NS-DC-0021-0025.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Amended Motion for Declaratory Judgment of Google Inc.'s First Amendment Right to Publish Aggregate Information About FISA Orders 09/09/2013
NS-DC-0021-0027.pdf | Detail
Order [Setting Timetable for Government Response] 09/13/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Motion for Declaratory Judgment that LinkedIn Corporation May Report Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders 09/17/2013
NS-DC-0021-0020.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order [for U.S. Government to Consolidate Response] 09/18/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Declaration of Andrew G. McCabe 09/30/2013
NS-DC-0021-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Declaration of Andrew G. McCabe 09/30/2013
NS-DC-0021-0026.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order on Motion of Dropbox, Inc. for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief 10/01/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Joint Motion for Stay of Proceedings 10/07/2013
NS-DC-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Amicus Curiae Brief of Apple Inc. in Support of Providers' Motion for Declaratory Judgment 11/05/2013
NS-DC-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Motion to Strike Government's Ex Parte Response to Motions to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders 11/12/2013
NS-DC-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Order Granting Joint Motion for Partial Stay of Proceedings 11/13/2013 (FISC)
NS-DC-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
The United States' Opposition to the Companies' Motion to Strike the Government's Ex Parte Response to Motions to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders 12/06/2013
NS-DC-0021-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Reply in Support of Motion to Strike the Government's Ex Parte Response to Motions to Disclose Aggregate Data Regarding FISA Orders 12/20/2013
NS-DC-0021-0018.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Notice [Permitting Petitioners to Publish Aggregate Data] 01/27/2014
NS-DC-0021-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Stipulation for Voluntary Dismissal of Action 01/27/2014
NS-DC-0021-0028.pdf | Detail
Judges Eagan, Claire (N.D. Okla., FISC) [Magistrate]
NS-DC-0021-0008
Walton, Reggie B. (FISC, D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0021-0001 | NS-DC-0021-0005 | NS-DC-0021-0009 | NS-DC-0021-0010 | NS-DC-0021-0012 | NS-DC-0021-0016 | NS-DC-0021-0024
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berengaut, Alexander A. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0023 | NS-DC-0021-0025 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Blavin, Jonathan H. (California)
NS-DC-0021-0020 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Fagan, David N (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0023 | NS-DC-0021-0025 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Garland, James M (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0002 | NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0018 | NS-DC-0021-0023 | NS-DC-0021-0025 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Gidari, Albert (Washington)
NS-DC-0021-0002 | NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0011 | NS-DC-0021-0018 | NS-DC-0021-0027 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Isaacson, William A. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0003
Nichols, Carl (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0002 | NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0018 | NS-DC-0021-0021 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Raphael, Justin P. (California)
NS-DC-0021-0020 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Roth, Jerome Cary (California)
NS-DC-0021-0002 | NS-DC-0021-0018 | NS-DC-0021-0020 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Sommer, Jacob A. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0022 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Sonderby, Chris (California)
NS-DC-0021-0021
Zwillinger, Marc J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0002 | NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0018 | NS-DC-0021-0022 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Defendant's Lawyers Carlin, John P. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Gauhar, Tashina (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Hardee, Christopher (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0028
Iftimie, Alex (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0019 | NS-DC-0021-0028
Patterson, Nicholas J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0004 | NS-DC-0021-0015 | NS-DC-0021-0017
Smith, Jeffrey Michael (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0015 | NS-DC-0021-0017
Other Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Abrams, Floyd (New York)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Bankston, Kevin Stuart (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Brown, Bruce D. (Virginia)
NS-DC-0021-0013
Ringel, Dean (New York)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Rumold, Mark Thomas (California)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Scheer, Peter E. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Szoka, Berin (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0021-0014
Tisne, Philip (New York)
NS-DC-0021-0014

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