Menu
Judge rules NSA spy efforts may be unconstitutional

Judge rules NSA spy efforts may be unconstitutional

Judge Richard Leon sees 'a substantial likelihood of success' by plaintiffs who argue their Fourth Amendment rights have been violated

In a potential blow to government surveillance efforts, a federal judge in Washington D.C., today ruled that the National Security Agency's practice of collecting phone metadata records on millions of Americans may be unconstitutional.

In a 68-page ruling, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia noted that the plaintiffs in the case had a legal basis for challenging the constitutionality of the government's bulk data collection.

Based on information presented to the court, the plaintiffs have demonstrated "a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim" against unreasonable search by the government, the Judge ruled.

He granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by public interest lawyer Larry Klayman and other plaintiffs in the case seeking an immediate end to the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata records. However, because of the significant national security interests at stake and the novelty of the constitutional issues raised by the case, Leon said he would stay the preliminary injunction pending an appeal by the government.

The lawsuit was filed in June by Klayman and by the parents of a Navy SEAL member killed in action in Afghanistan. It charged that the data collection efforts first unveiled by The Guardian violate constitutionally protected privacy rights and rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

The three named plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and a former prosecutor, and Charles and Mary Strange, the parents of Michael Strange, a Navy SEAL who was killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan by Taliban fighters.

The complaint describes Klayman as a Verizon customer and public advocate who has been "highly critical" of the Obama administration and has filed multiple lawsuits against the president in the past. Others named as defendants include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NSA Director Keith Alexander and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

Developing story. More to come.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

See more by Jaikumar Vijayan on Computerworld.com.

Read more about privacy in Computerworld's Privacy Topic Center.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Gov't Legislation/RegulationsecurityCivil lawsuitslegalU.S. National Security Agencygovernmentprivacy

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP honoured leading partners across the channel at the Partner Awards 2017 in New Zealand, recognising excellence across the entire print and personal systems portfolio.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Leading figures within the technology industry across New Zealand came together to celebrate 30 years of success for Lexel Systems, at a milestone birthday occasion at St Matthews in the City.​

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30
HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP New Zealand held an inaugural Evolve Education event at Aotea Centre in Auckland, welcoming over 70 principals, teachers and education experts to explore ways of shaping and enhancing learning using technology.

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch
Show Comments