Focusing public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues

"I support EPIC's Petition to the NSA."


June 17, 2013

Dear General Alexander and Secretary Hagel:

The undersigned individuals and organizations, concerned about the rule of law and the protection of Constitutional freedoms, hereby petition the National Security Agency to conduct a public rulemaking on the agency's monitoring and collection of communications traffic within the United States. 5 U.S.C. § 553(e).

We believe that the NSA's collection of domestic communications contravenes the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and violates several federal privacy laws, including the Privacy Act of 1974, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 as amended.

The NSA's collection of solely domestic communications, which has been acknowledged by the President, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also constitutes a legislative rule that "substantively affects the public to a degree sufficient to implicate the policy interests animating notice-and-comment rulemaking" under the Administrative Procedure Act. EPIC v. DHS, 653 F.3d 1, 6 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Accordingly, the NSA's collection of domestic communications, absent the opportunity for public comment, is unlawful.

We hereby petition the National Security Agency, a component of the Department of Defense, for relief. We ask the NSA to immediately suspend collection of solely domestic communications pending the completion of a public rulemaking as required by law.

We intend to renew our request each week until we receive your response.

Sincerely,

  • Marc Rotenberg
  • Dr. Alessandro Acquisti
  • James Bamford
  • Grayson Barber
  • Professor Ann Bartow
  • Professor Colin Bennett
  • Professor Christine Borgman
  • Professor Julie E. Cohen
  • Dr. Danah Boyd
  • Simon Davies
  • Dr. Whitfield Diffie
  • Dr. Cynthia Dwork
  • Professor David Farber
  • Addison Fischer
  • Professor David Flaherty
  • Professor Michael Froomkin
  • Professor Urs Gasser
  • Deborah Hurley
  • Professor Jerry Kang
  • Sheila Kaplan
  • Professor Ian Kerr
  • Rebecca MacKinnon
  • Mary Minow
  • Dr. Pablo Molina
  • Dr. Peter G. Neumann
  • Professor Helen Nissenbaum
  • Ray Ozzie
  • Deborah C. Peel, MD
  • Chip Pitts
  • Professor Anita Ramasastry
  • Professor Ronald Rivest
  • Professor Pam Samuelson
  • Bruce Schneier
  • Dr. Barbara Simons
  • Edward G. Viltz

NSA Responds to EPIC's Petition
The NSA has sent a reply to EPIC's petition. The reply letter is shown below.
EPIC Petition NSA Response
View PDF Version

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What is this petition?
EPIC is petitioning to the NSA under the Administrative Procedure Act. This allows citizens to challenge the basis for actions undertaken by agencies of the U.S. government. Learn more about APA actions and EPIC's actions here.

View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on June 28, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on July 5, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on July 12, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on July 19, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on July 26, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on August 2, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on August 9, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on August 16, 2013. (PDF)
View EPIC's renewed petition, sent on August 23, 2013. (PDF)

NSA Director Says Agency's Mission is Foreign Intelligence Collection

"Remember, we are a foreign intelligence agency. Our job is to go after foreign intelligence requirements."

Gen. Keith Alexander, Director, National Security Agency,
Aspen Security Forum
July 18, 2013

NSA Director Says Agency Wants Public Comments

"Help us defend this country and protect our civil liberties and privacy. And if anybody has a better way to do it than what we are doing today, we want to hear that."

Gen. Keith Alexander, Director, National Security Agency,
Aspen Security Forum
July 18, 2013