Electronic communications permeate our everyday life, and those communications help define a large part of how we interact with the world. On Monday, March 31, Cindy Cohn, the legal director for the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, presented the fifth annual Judge Justin L. Quackenbush lecture. Entitled “NSA Mass Spying, the Constitution, and You,” the lecture addressed both the records collection programs that are currently known and a legal analysis of those programs.
Identifying and Analyzing Collection Programs
Highlighting first that what is currently known of collection programs are “glimpses” thanks to whistleblowers and government admissions. While these programs began coming to light in 2005, more information is still being uncovered. Cohn focused mainly on four programs: the Upstream collection of all fiber optic data; call records collection; Prism, which collects data from internet companies; and Hemisphere, which embeds telecomm employees with investigations. These programs encompass a wide variety of legal questions, including the PATRIOT act, 4th Amendment, 1st Amendment, and international business law.
A Detailed Analysis
“Cindy Cohn’s lecture was referred to as “thought-provoking” by Chief Judge Rosanna Peterson and by Judge Justin Quackenbush in their post-presentation remarks; that is an apt characterization,” said Professor Mary Pat Treuthart. “Most of us are unaware of what is happening behind the scenes with respect to our electronic communications – not only from the from the government side but on the part of the corporations to whom we entrust our information. While being mindful of national security issues, Ms. Cohn did an outstanding job pointing out areas of concern for everyone who is interested in protecting individual civil liberties.”
Honoring Judge Justin L. Quackenbush
For the last four years, the Gonzaga School of Law Quackenbush lecture series, supported by the Federal Judges of the Eastern District of Washington, has featured a variety of talented speakers, intended to honor the achievements of Judge Justin L. Quackenbush. Former speakers have been: