US Court rules NSA phone surveillance program illegal

A Three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the telephone metadata collection program of NSA is illegal under the Patriot Act. Government however, maintains that this program is legal under the Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

On Thursday Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ panel of judges ruled that the National Security Agency’s Telephone Metadata Collection Program is illegal under the Patriot Act. Under this program, the NSA gathered up millions of phone records of American citizens on a daily basis.

The government, on the other hand, argued that a section of the Patriot Ac- Section 215 entitles it to carry forward this program, which will expire in June. Legislators are however, confused over how to renew the authority of the government, which it had enjoyed soon after the Sep 11/2001 terror attacks in Washington and New York.

The Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio defended this program on the Senate’s floor soon after the court verdict was made public.

Rubio said: “A perception has been created, including by political figures who serve in this chamber, that the United States government is listening to your phone calls or going through your bills as a matter of course that is absolutely and categorically false.”

In June 2013, Edward Snowden, ex NSA contractor, disclosed classified documents that revealed the existence of this program. This program stayed secret for over a decade.

A Three-judge panel wrote in their decision that this program isn’t supported by the law’s current version and its renewal is certainly going to stir political debate.

According to one of the three judges in the panel Justice Gerard E. Lynch the program program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” Lynch added that the Patriot Act text “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

The question of whether this phone records collection program is constitution or not was not addressed by the court. Now the case has been sent back to a lower court.

Lynch stated: “In light of the asserted national security interests at stake, we deem it prudent to pause to allow an opportunity for debate in Congress that may (or may not) profoundly alter the legal landscape.” Concerned with the program’s scope, Lynch wrote that the “sheer volume of information sought is staggering.”

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