Surveillance Court:: Keeping Phone Data Legal, Doesn’t Violate Privacy


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has offered its most extensive public explanation for why it allows the government to keep records of all Americans' phone calls, releasing a previously classified opinion that said the program was constitutional and did not violate privacy rights, the New York Times reports. The once-secret call log program has been periodically reapproved by the court since 2006. It has come under criticism from members of Congress and civil libertarians since its existence came to light in June leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The court quoted NSA director Keith Alexander as saying the leaks had caused “significant and irreversible damage” to national security, U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan of Oklahoma declared the program lawful but said whether it should be continued “is a matter for the political branches to decide.” Eagan noted that no telecommunications company had invoked its legal right to object to turning over its customers' calling records to the government.

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