Menu
Judge rules NSA's phone data collection program is legal, tosses ACLU suit

Judge rules NSA's phone data collection program is legal, tosses ACLU suit

The metadata collection represents "the natural tension between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberty," judge says

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. National Security Agency's bulk phone record metadata collection efforts are legal, turning aside a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union brought against the agency.

While the collection program "vacuums up information about virtually every call to, from, or within the United States," it also allows the NSA to "detect relationship so attenuated and ephemeral they would otherwise escape notice," Judge William Pauley III wrote in his 54-page decision filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Overall, the metadata collection serves as the U.S. government's "counter-punch: connecting fragmented and fleeting communications to re-construct and eliminate Al-Qaeda's terror network," Pauley wrote.

There also is "no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks," he added. "While there have been unintentional violations of guidelines, those appear to stem from human error and the incredibly complex computer programs that support this vital tool."

The ACLU couldn't immediately provide comment on Pauley's ruling Friday.

Details of the NSA's domestic surveillance practices emerged this year through a series of disclosures by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the agency. Snowden is now in temporary aslyum in Russia.

Snowden's actions, while unauthorized, have "provoked a public debate and this litigation," Pauley said. The metadata collection program represents "the natural tension between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberty," he wrote.

Pauley noted that the court's role was only to determine whether the program is legal. "The Court finds it is," he wrote. "But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of Government to decide."

His ruling comes less than two weeks after another federal judge harshly criticized the NSA program and said it could be unconstitutional.

Judge Richard Leon made a preliminary ruling in favor of plaintiffs in that case, saying the father of the U.S. Constitution, James Madison, would be "aghast" at the NSA program.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacycybercrimelegalonline safetyCivil lawsuitsAmerican Civil Liberties UnionEdward Snowden

Featured

Slideshows

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

Hundreds of leaders from the New Zealand IT industry gathered at the Hilton in Auckland on 17 November to celebrate the finest female talent in the Kiwi channel and recognise the winners of the Reseller News Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) 2020.

The Kiwi channel gathers for the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards
Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards

The leading female front runners of the New Zealand ICT industry joined together for the annual Reseller News Women in ICT Awards event at the Hilton in Auckland, during which hundreds of guests celebrated 13 outstanding individuals who won awards, chosen from more than 50 finalists representing over 30 organisations.

Leading female front runners honoured at the 2020 Reseller News Women in ICT Awards
Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners

More than 500 channel leaders gathered in Auckland on 21 October at the ​Reseller News Innovation Awards ​2020 to celebrate the achievements of the New Zealand technology industry's top partners, start-ups, vendors, distributors and individuals.

Channel gathers to celebrate the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2020 winners
Show Comments