Cal NORML Joins EFF Lawsuit Against NSA Surveillance

Contact: California NORML 415-563-5858

July 16 – California NORML has joined as a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed today on behalf of 19 different groups by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against NSA’s phone surveillance program. California NORML members complain that the surveillance could have a “chilling effect” on their ability to continue working with us.

“Because we are devoted to marijuana reform, many of our members have knowledge of activities that are illegal under federal law,” explains California NORML Director Dale Gieringer. “Many have themselves already been the object of government investigations over the use of medical marijuana under California’s law, Prop 215. Our phone service is provided by Verizon, one of the carriers known to have turned phone records over to the government. We believe the government’s spy program is an unwarranted violation of our privacy and 4th amendment rights.”

Deputy Director Ellen Komp estimates CalNORML’s call volume has dropped by at least half since the news about the NSA program broke. “And that’s bad news, because most of the calls I get are from people facing losing their jobs, their parental rights, their homes, or their liberty because of marijuana laws. These are people who can barely afford private attorneys, if at all.”

The California NORML hotline, 415-563-5858, has been in continuous existence since 1972. Most calls are from non-members, who often feel uncomfortable “putting their name on a list.”

CalNORML and the national office in DC recently orchestrated 3500 emails from members and supporters to halt a bill that would have made any amount of THC in the blood an automatic DUI in California. “It’s difficult to organize people for social change, and help those who need it most, when they’re afraid to come forward, or even call us,” Komp said.

The other plaintiffs include: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles; Bill of Rights Defense Committee; Calguns Foundation; California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees; Council on Islamic Relations; Franklin Armory; Free Press; Free Software Foundation; Greenpeace; Human Rights Watch; Media Alliance; Open Technology Institute; People for the American Way, Public Knowledge; Students for Sensible Drug Policy; TechFreedom; and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

“The First Amendment protects the freedom to associate and express political views as a group, but the NSA’s mass, untargeted collection of Americans’ phone records violates that right by giving the government a dramatically detailed picture into our associational ties,” said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn in the EFF Press Release

Also see:
Spygate Lawsuit Accuses NSA of Unconstitutional ‘Dragnet Electronic Surveillance’
Wired Magazine

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