Western Journal has reported extensively on the concerns raised by conservatives and civil libertarians about the massive collection of Americans’ phone usage data by the National Security Agency (NSA). You can see a couple of examples of our reporting by going here and here.
Now, a federal appeals court in New York has just declared to be illegal the once-secret NSA program to collect the phone records of U.S. citizens on a bulk basis. The New York Times reports that the Patriot Act does not authorize the federal spy agency to systematically and routinely gather and store the phone records of Americans not suspected of activity deemed to be a threat to national security.
“It is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the program, which since 2006 has repeatedly been approved in secret by a national security court.”
Advertisement – story continues below
The Times article points out that the 97-page ruling from the federal appeals court in New York will likely cause major waves in Congress as the provision of the Patriot Act that was used to justify the NSA’s data collection is up for review.
In declaring the program illegal, the judges said, “We do so comfortably in the full understanding that if Congress chooses to authorize such a far‐reaching and unprecedented program, it has every opportunity to do so, and to do so unambiguously.”
USA Today notes that the Thursday ruling from the federal court is “the most significant legal setback yet for the long-running surveillance operation” — a shadowy operation that has been severely criticized by those who argue that it intrudes on the privacy of innocent Americans.
Advertisement - story continues below
“The controversial program, which gathers information about phone calls made and received but does not eavesdrop on their content, has been the subject of several court challenges. A federal judge in Washington originally declared it unconstitutional; another judge in New York upheld it.”
It may well be the Supreme Court that has the final say on the NSA surveillance program, particularly if a different appeals court considering another challenge to the agency’s practice — the appeals panel for the District of Columbia Circuit — reaches a ruling opposite to that just issued by the New York court. Or, it could be that Congress decides to kill the provision of the Patriot Act under which the National Security Agency had been sweeping up untold amounts of domestic phone data.
The widespread phone surveillance program was among those disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Facebook has greatly reduced the distribution of our stories in our readers' newsfeeds and is instead promoting mainstream media sources. When you share to your friends, however, you greatly help distribute our content. Please take a moment and consider sharing this article with your friends and family. Thank you.