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Saturday, August 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

CdA woman sues over federal phone surveillance

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

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

Peter Smith said of his wife, Anna 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.”

“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 cell phone. 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 1st and 4th 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, “We’re going to push it forward as far as we can. … Our hope is we’ll be successful. Whether or not that’s likely it’s hard to say, but we want an answer to the legal question that we posed.”

The lawmaker said, “Like most Americans, I’m upset that there’s no expectation of privacy now in any cell phone 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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