On the 17th August the EFF (Electronic Frontier foundation) will urge a Los Angeles court to allow a lawsuit to proceed against the DEA (Drug enforcement Agency) by Human Rights Watch. The lawsuit puts forward that the DEA illegally collected phone records to various foreign countries. Human Rights Watch is a non partisan entity battling the abuse of human rights worldwide. As a matter of course Human Rights Watch communicates by phone with it’s contacts throughout the world. Phone records involve sources who are either witnesses or victims and place themselves in a perilous situation merely by communicating with human rights organizations.

Earlier int the year Human Rights Watch had gleaned from news reports and government statements that the Drug Enforcement Agency had collected Human Rights Watch international phone records over 2 decades, together with the phone records of millions of other U.S. citizens. The Drug Enforcement Agency’s phone records stretched to billions and covered calls to more than 100 countries. This was carried on without the knowledge of the U.S. public, and without judicial approval or oversight. News reports also suggest that the Drug Enforcement Agency’s bulk phone records collection has been seen by some as the basis and fore runner to the NSA phone records program.

While the Drug Enforcement Agency’s phone records program saw light as the “war on drugs” initiative it appeared to take on other facets over and above drug prosecutions as time went on. It also emerged that the phone records of millions of Americans were shared with the Dept. of Homeland Security and the FBI. By chance the DEA’s vast phone records program was uncovered within an export restriction prosecution which had nothing whatsoever to do with drugs.

The time line follows a suit that was filed in April by Human rights Watch which sought an injunction barring further operations along with the destruction of illegally collated phone records. The DEA requested the case be dismissed in June citing the program’s demise. EFF attorney Mark Rumold will contest that the lawsuit has to continue to confirm all phone records be purged from government systems.

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