Sen. Rand Paul said Sunday he wants to mount a Supreme Court challenge to the federal government logging Americans’ phone calls and Internet activities.
Paul, R-Ky., a leading voice in the Libertarian movement, told “Fox News Sunday” he wants to get enough signatures to file a class-action lawsuit before the high court and will appeal to younger Americans, who appear to be advancing the cause of less government and civil liberties.
“I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: Ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit,” he said. “If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then maybe someone will wake up and something will change in Washington.”
Paul, a first-term senator and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said he disagrees with President Obama’s argument that the National Security Agency collecting 3 billion calls daily and other information is a modest invasion of privacy.
“That doesn’t look like a modest invasion of privacy,” he told Fox. “I have no problem if you have probable cause … but we’re talking about trolling through a billion phone records a day.”
Paul’s comments follow startling revelations last week that the NSA led the efforts to collect records on calls and Internet activity as part of post-9/11 attempts to thwart terrorism.
The British newspaper The Guardian broke the story that the federal government is collecting phone records from Verizon customers.
The paper and The Washington Post followed with stories that the calls were taken from other telecommunications companies and that the NSA has a program known as PRISM that records Internet activities.
Washington officials have acknowledged all branches of the federal government – Congress, the White House and federal courts – knew about the collection of data under the Patriot Act.
Paul also said the government should be using a specific warrant, not a general warrant, to get the data, arguing the Fourth Amendment prevents unreasonable search and seizure.
“The Founding Fathers didn’t want that,” he said. “I think the American people are with me. Young people who use computers are with me.”
President Obama said Friday that the programs have made a difference in tracking terrorists and are not tantamount to "Big Brother."
The president acknowledged the U.S. government is collecting reams of phone records, including phone numbers and the duration of calls, but said this does not include listening to calls or gathering the names of callers.
"You can't have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said. “We're going to have to make some choices as a society."