A federal judge in Washington, DC has approved a request from a group of attorneys representing former FiveM executives and customers to issue a subpoena demanding the disclosure of the names and locations of the company’s servers used to host a federal government-funded database used by the FBI to search for and catch terrorists.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Crittenden ruled that attorneys representing the former executives and their clients had a constitutional right to a hearing before issuing a subpoena.
Crittendens order is the latest move in the case of the former Fivem employees, who allege that they were unfairly targeted by the government’s warrantless electronic surveillance program.
In March, the government agreed to settle a lawsuit with former Fiveminers.
The agreement called for the former employees to pay the government $6.2 million for violating the federal wiretapping program.
Crissenden’s order was made public Friday, but a copy was not made public because it would compromise the privacy of plaintiffs.
It said that the order would be issued after a “procedural review” and could take up to 90 days.
A statement from FiveM said the order was issued to protect the privacy rights of its customers.
“We strongly believe that the public has a right to know the identities of its government-subsidized electronic surveillance systems that have been used to conduct warrantless wiretaps, monitor, and collect vast amounts of data on individuals who have been accused of no crime and whose activities were never in question,” the statement read.
“The government has shown itself to be in a state of denial about the extent of its use of these electronic surveillance tools.
It should not be surprised, therefore, that its application of the same tools to individuals who are innocent of any wrongdoing is also unconstitutional.”
The government’s application of these warrants, as well as a related surveillance program, were authorized by a 2008 law known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which allows the government to conduct surveillance on a number of electronic communications without a warrant.
The warrantless surveillance program has been widely criticized by privacy advocates, civil liberties groups, and other advocates.
Federal judges have repeatedly blocked its implementation, arguing that it violates the Fourth Amendment and the First Amendment.
The government, however, has said that its surveillance of private communications was necessary to thwart attacks by foreign terrorists.
It has also said that it does not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for such communications.
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order in August preventing the government from deploying the warrantless eavesdropping program to conduct its warrantless data collection program.
That ruling was upheld by the 9th U.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in January.
Crittonens order said the government had failed to respond to his request for information on the servers that are being used by FBI to collect information on a target.