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CdA woman files lawsuit over data collection

Fri., June 14, 2013

A Coeur d’Alene woman has filed a federal lawsuit against President Barack Obama and top national security officials, contending that collection of information about her Verizon cellphone use violates the law and the Constitution.

Her attorneys are Idaho state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, a former deputy Kootenai County prosecutor, and Peter J. Smith IV of Lukins and Annis, who is the woman’s husband.

Peter Smith said of his wife, Anna J. Smith, “It’s kind of an interesting situation; she has access to resources that a normal person may not, that is legal counsel and knowing that this case probably won’t be dealt with quickly or easily and probably will wind its way through.”

The lawsuit is in response to revelations last week that the National Security Agency operates a classified program to monitor millions of Americans’ telephone records.

“Plaintiff Anna Smith is a mom and a neonatal intensive care nurse,” the lawsuit states, whose “primary means of communication is with her cell phone.”

The suit says Smith “communicates with her family, friends, employer, her children’s teachers, her doctor, her legal counsel, and nearly everyone else by way of her cellphone. None of these communications relate in any way to international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. Rather, these communications are being monitored simply because they are occurring.”

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court asks the court to declare the government’s collection of the data in violation of federal law and the First and Fourth amendments to the U.S. Constitution; permanently bar it; and order the government to purge all its call records relating to Smith’s communications.

Malek said, “Like most Americans, I’m upset that there’s no expectation of privacy now in any cellphone communication. We use that as our primary source of communication for talking about sensitive topics. … Anna talks with her doctor and her lawyer and her husband about things that you wouldn’t want anybody to know. The metadata is a scary thing as well, knowing that we can be tracked down to our exact location at any time.”

The lawsuit was filed late Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene. It names President Obama; James Clapper, director of national intelligence; Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency; U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Attorney General Eric Holder; and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The case has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush.

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