The NSA and EFF Agree on One Thing: How the NSA’s Internet Spying Works

Much has changed in the nearly ten years since we launched our first lawsuit challenging the NSA’s illegal surveillance of millions of Americans’ Internet communications. Over time, the defendants in the cases have changed; the legal “authority” the government has invoked to justify the program has changed; and the public’s knowledge and understanding of the programs has increased remarkably.

But, nearly a decade in, one thing has stayed remarkably constant: the relevant facts. The NSA, with the help of the nation’s largest telecommunications firms, like AT&T, has tapped the nation’s Internet backbone, searching and sifting through vast amounts of innocent Americans’ Internet communications.

This was true when we filed our first lawsuit challenging the NSA’s programs in 2006, and it’s still true today. And, as new NSA slides published in August by Pro Publica and the New York Times confirm, even in 2006, we were remarkably accurate in our description of how the NSA’s program operates.

In fact, we even got the diagrams right.

Below is an image of a diagram we filed in 2006 in our case, Hepting v. AT&Tour first case challenging NSA surveillance. The diagram, created by our expert J. Scott Marcus, charts the operation of the surveillance installations at an AT&T facility in San Francisco. The declaration and diagram were based on information provided to us by whistleblower Mark Klein. We’ve subsequently relied on this declaration in our ongoing case, Jewel v. NSA, too.



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