A top secret document obtained by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, shows that an American law firm was at one time monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the U.S. Lawyer expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance.
St. Louis attorney, Anjali Dooley, says that the Australian government was eavesdropping on Indonesia during trade talks about cigarettes and shrimp. An American law firm, based in Chicago, was representing the Indonesian government during the talks. Dooley says that no top secret information was communicated during these trade talks.
The NSA is prohibited from targeting Americans, including businesses and law firms for surveillance without a warrant. The NSA didn't skirt the law to try and get information about American citizens or any attorney-client information, says Dooley, adding that all that was happening was that Australia was spying on Indonesia and Indonesia was represented by a law firm in the U.S.
There are minimization measures in place so lawyers can notify if there's attorney-client information that only certain parties can look at and that the firm and client have to be notified. However, notes Dooley, they can still gather information for intelligence information if it has do with foreign intelligence related to terrorism.
Currently, Dooley says there is no legislation on attorney-client privilege and surveillance but one thing the Indonesian government was afraid of was economic espionage. Dooley feels this will be more a concern down the road than gathering foreign intelligence for a terrorist.
Anjali Dooley is an attorney in St. Louis, Missouri. For more information on her, click here. She spoke with The Legal Broadcast Network, providing online, on-demand, legal video content. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.