Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Records Collection Legal

The National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects records of phone calls is perfectly legal. So says a federal judge in a ruling on a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the surveillance program.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on June 11, 2013, less than a week after the mass call-tracking program was revealed by The Guardian newspaper. The report was based on documents obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The federal court issued an opinion and order in ACLU v. Clapper, ruling that the governmentEUs bulk collection of phone records is lawful under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and under the Fourth Amendment. The court denied the plaintiffsEU motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the governmentEUs motion to dismiss the case.

A Conflicting Ruling

The program, EUvacuums up information about virtually every telephone call to, from, or within the United States,EU U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan said in his 54-page decision. He also ruled that whether or not the program is constitutional is EUultimately a question of reasonablenessEU and found no evidence that the U.S. government had relied on EUbulk telephony metadataEU for any reason beyond investigating potential terrorist attacks.

"This blunt tool only works because it collects everything," Pauley wrote. "Technology allowed al Qaeda to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the government's counter-punch."

PauleyEUs ruling conflicts with last weekEUs ruling by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that the mass call-tracking program violates the Fourth Amendment. The ACLU plans to appeal the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Remembering 9/11

EUWe are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the governmentEUs surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections,EU said Jameel Jaffer,...

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