Digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked a judge to rule that the United States' eavesdropping on internet backbone circuits breaches the fourth amendment.
Court documents filed by the EFF last week in an ongoing case against the US National Security Agency (NSA) since 2008 claim that the spy agency's mass capture and searching of the internet communications of innocent people and organisations around the world is illegal.
The EFF said whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have revealed that the US government operates a warrantless technological surveillance system that undermines Americans' constitutional right to privacy.
"By installing fibre-optic splitters on the internet backbone, and then searching through tens of millions of internet communications it collects, the NSA is conducting suspicionless and indiscriminate mass surveillance that is like the abusive 'general warrants' that led the nation's founders to enact the Fourth Amendment."
- EFF legal director Cindy Cohn.
According to the EFF, the US government has admitted to conducting the surveillance, claiming it is legal for it to operate a "digital dragnet".
However, the EFF said that even though it relied on the government's descriptions of the internet backbone wiretapping, the organisation did not believe that it was necessarily correct or complete.
The EFF specifically believes the US government is not filtering out domestic data traffic from the eavesdropping.
Even if it did, the data collection would still violate the Fourth Amendment as tapping into internet backbone networks amounts to domestic surveillance, the EFF said.