The group Human Rights Watch has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, accusing it of illegally collecting Americans’ telephone records to some foreign countries in a bulk surveillance program.
The lawsuit was filed late on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is representing Human Rights Watch and has filed other legal challenges against government surveillance.
“The DEA’s program of untargeted and suspicionless surveillance of Americans’ international telephone call records – information about the numbers people call, and the time, date, and duration of those calls – affects millions of innocent people, yet the DEA operated the program in secret for years,” EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo said in a statement.
The DEA program was first revealed in court records in January, the foundation said.
The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Several government surveillance programs have come under scrutiny in the United States since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked details of massive U.S. intelligence gathering programs in 2014.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham)