Suit alleges DEA collected phone records without suspecting criminal activity

On April 7th, attorneys for the Human Rights Watch (a non-profit group based in New York) filed suit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”) in U.S. District Court in California. The suit alleges that the DEA maintains a mass surveillance program that “indiscriminately sweeps in the call records of millions of Americans communicating by telephone with certain specified foreign countries” and violates the first and fourth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Human Rights Watch v. Drug Enforcement Administration et. al., case number 2:15-cv-02573. Although the DEA has said that the mass surveillance program is no longer active, the Human Rights Watch suit seeks to prevent the government from ever restarting it. The suit alleges that Afghanistan, Burma, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela were among the countries subject to the mass surveillance program that collected phone records of Americans not necessarily related to suspected illicit drug activity.