Thursday, May 07, 2015

NSA's Bulk Collection of Phone Records Is Illegal, Appeals Court Says

The Intercept reports NSA's Bulk Collection of Phone Records Is Illegal, Appeals Court Says "A federal appeals court panel ruled on Thursday that the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata of phone calls to and from Americans is not authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, throwing out the government’s legal justification for the surveillance program exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden nearly two years ago."

The government has pointed to no affirmative evidence, whether “clear and convincing” or “fairly discernible,” that suggests that Congress intended to preclude judicial review. Indeed, the government’s argument from secrecy suggests that Congress did not contemplate a situation in which targets of § 215 orders would become aware of those orders on anything resembling the scale that they now have. That revelation, of course, came to pass only because of an unprecedented leak of classified information.

This is a big deal. Good job by the ACLU in bringing the case. Now the government can't hide behind secrecy claims or ridiculous arguments like it's just metadata or it's not a human just a machine looking. A Patriot Act reauthorization is coming up June 1st, hopefully some Congresspeople start talking loudly about this and we now have presidential candidates who should be asked about it. And the media should be getting Obama's opinion on this and ask when he's going to cancel this and similar programs or get authorization from Congress for some replacement. IMHO Obama's biggest failing (ok, one of them) has been in allowing the US to become a secret surveillance state.

Here's the 97 page pdf opinion.

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