UConn philosopher Michael P. Lynch has filed a friend of the court brief in support of the American Civil Liberties Union challenge to the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone records.
Lynch, a professor of philosophy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says the NSA rationale for looking at the metadata in telephone records “misrepresents the nature of the harm caused by such surveillance,” and that “personal autonomy – the protection of which is a necessary element of any democracy – is ultimately harmed by the government’s dragnet acquisition of telephone and digital data.”
A friend of the court brief, known as an amicus brief in legal terminology, is often filed by private individuals in cases that carry broad public interest, in part to provide knowledge or expertise that the court may find valuable.
“At the heart of this case is not a legal issue, but a moral issue, what it means to be an autonomous person in this society,” says Lynch, who is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ blog “The Stone,” where he writes on privacy and other issues.
By Kenneth Best