Back in 2014, the tech firm challenged an order issued under Section 702 of the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, a law that allows the US government to request telecommunications data on non-US citizens. The wide-ranging powers in that act, due for renewal at the end of this year, have been highly controversial ever since the Edward Snowden archives brought them to public attention.
The heavily redacted documents [PDF] were published this week, and come from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees Uncle Sam's spying efforts. They detail a request by the unnamed company for copies of previous decisions the judges had made on Section 702 hearings, so that it could prepare its case.
So there is no right to see court rulings that effect your case. And this part is the truly Kafkaesque bit:Instead of allowing the firm to gather the evidence it needed, Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled that the government was perfectly within its rights to deny the company the information it requested.
Instead, the judge told the company to rely on the Department of Justice's accounts of previous Section 702 hearings, rather than seeing the legal cases for themselves.Well, OK then. When I grew up, we thought it was the Soviet Union that had secret courts.