FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: U.S. Supreme Court Asked To Review Secrecy Of DHS's Wireless Kill Switch Policy

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

U.S. Supreme Court Asked To Review Secrecy Of DHS's Wireless Kill Switch Policy

By Lisa Brownlee, Forbes, Aug. 12, 2015

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an independent non-profit research center and high-profile privacy and freedom of information advocacy group, announced yesterday that it filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s February 2015 judgment permitting the Department of Homeland Security to withhold releasing substantially all of a secret protocol that governs the shutdown of wireless networks in emergencies.

In a written statement about the litigation, EPIC President and Executive Director Marc Rotenberg commented, ”[t]he secret DHS policy to shut down cell phone service threatens public safety, open government, and First Amendment freedoms. EPIC has been seeking its public release for over four years. Now we are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court after an earlier victory was overturned.” The protocol, entitled Standard Operating Procedure 303 (SOP 303) has been the subject of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation since February 2013, when EPIC filed suit after the denial by DHS of EPIC’s July 10, 2012 FOIA request for release of SOP 303 and related documentation.

In its Supreme Court petition, EPIC argues that, “[a]bsent Supreme Court review, the decision of the court of appeals could transform the FOIA from a disclosure to a withholding statute.”

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