A Ninth Circuit case addressing the scope of the Privacy Act’s protections for free expression
On August 3, 2018, the Knight Institute, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Color of Change filed an amicus brief in Raimondo v. FBI, a case in which the Ninth Circuit is considering challenges brought by two journalists against the government for maintaining records documenting their First Amendment–protected activities.
The Privacy Act generally prohibits the government from keeping records of how individuals exercise their First Amendment rights, unless the records are “pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity.” As the Knight Institute’s amicus brief explains, Congress passed the Act in response to the government’s long history of discriminatory surveillance of racial justice activists. The brief argues that this history is currently repeating itself in the government’s monitoring of the Movement for Black Lives, other activists, and journalists, underscoring the importance of the Privacy Act’s protections for free expression.
Status: Decided on September 11, 2019. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Privacy Act prohibits the government from maintaining records on First Amendment–protected activity unless they are pertinent to a currently ongoing law enforcement activity.
Case Information: Raimondo v. FBI, No. 13-cv-02295 (N.D. Cal.), No. 18-15416 (9th Cir.) (oral argument).