Hi. I am a Washington DC based privacy researcher and activist. You can find more info
about me here. The focus of my research is on the relationship between Internet and telecommunications companies and
the government. Specifically, I study the ways they assist or resist surveillance of their customers.
Some of my past work has lead to the disclosure of Sprint's sharing of real-time geo-location data with the government, and Yahoo's
attempts to keep its surveillance prices secret. You may also have recently read about Facebook's attempt to start a whispering
campaign against Google - I published the emails that exposed the shady tactics of Facebook's PR firm.
About this project
In April 2010, I filed a FOIA request with the Department of Justice to get documents related to several surveillance practices. Specifically, I wanted to know about surveillance of cellular roaming users (who are not paying subscribers of the companies whose towers they are using), surveillance of the location of "communities of interest" - that is, finding out the geo-location of the people who have called or been called by a suspect, and information about ISPs that take a tough line and put their customers privacy first.
One year later, in March 2011, DOJ contacted me to let me know that it found nearly 600 responsive pages...and that it was refusing to give me anything. I promptly appealed. I now have two choices - I can either wait the estimated one year for DOJ to review my appeal (after which, it may still refuse to disclose the documents), or I can take them to court.
I want to sue.
What do I need
The filing fee for federal court cases is $350. I think I may need another $150 or so to cover other costs associated with the case. This is just covering the fees I will pay, I am not earning any money.
Excess funds received over my actual cost for this particular case will be retained and used for future FOIA litigation or other privacy activism.
What if I win
If I am successful, and the judge forces DOJ to disclose documents, I get my filing fee back. If that happens, I will keep the fee, and use it for my next FOIA lawsuit (I have plenty of FOIAs in the works).
What if I lose
Then I get no documents, your money is wasted, and we get no sunlight over the growing surveillance state :(