flickr / dmuth
In recent weeks, there have been a flurry of motions exchanged in two courts over what kinds of “telephony metadata” records the government should be keeping, or deleting. It’s a pretty confusing mishmash related to lawsuits that a few advocacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have been involved in regarding government secrecy extending back to 2006.
On Feb. 25, Department of Justice lawyers told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that they needed special permission to hang on to their records for longer than the five years that they normally do in order to comply with evidence-retention rules for lawsuits brought by the activist groups.
The FISC judge, Reggie Walton, denied their request, noting that there was no preservation order for that metadata. In other words, delete as you usually delete.
But in fact, there were such orders in place—at least in the view of activist groups like EFF and ACLU, which filed lawsuits in San Francisco federal court. Those groups jumped to attention to stop any deletion and to alert Walton about existing orders in the lawsuits.