The NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone call records may be illegal, a US federal appeals court has ruled.
The US Second Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata1program was not authorised by section 215 of the Patriot Act, voiding an earlier ruling by a lower court. The US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a legal challenge to the NSA dragnet surveillance program. Judge Vernon S Broderick ruled that section 215 of the Patriot Act was a statutory scheme that precludes judicial review.
The decision by three judges on appeal overturns that decision and re-opens the case against the NSA that it acted contrary to either the Fourth or First Amendments to the US Constitution. Lawyers are still to argue on these points properly. Attorneys for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) have however succeeded in re-instating the case and in deprecating the Patriot Act as a trump card in justifying surveillance, as the ruling by the judges explains.