Federal Judge Says NSA Phone Data Collection Likely Unconstitutional


A federal judge ruled that the National Security Agency program that collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely unconstitutional, reports Politico. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to violate the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. He said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the information had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Acting in a lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting metadata on the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. Leon stayed the order to allow for an appeal. “I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. The ruling was the first significant legal setback for the NSA's surveillance program since it was disclosed in June in news stories based on leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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