December 16, 2013

Here We Go [6:50 pm]

Federal Judge Rules Against N.S.A. Phone Data Program [pdf] [decision]

A Federal District Court judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, and he ordered the government to stop collecting data on two plaintiffs’ personal calls and destroy the records of their calling history.

From the Conclusion of the decision:

This case is yet the latest chapter in the Judiciary’s continuing challenge to balance the national security interests of the United States with the individual liberties of our citizens. The Government, in its understandable zeal to protect our homeland, has crafted a counterterrorism program with respect to telephone metadata that strikes the balance based in large part on a thirty-four year old Supreme Court precedent, the relevance of which has been eclipsed by technological advances and a cell phone-centric lifestyle heretofore inconceivable. In the months ahead, other Article III courts, no doubt, will wrestle to find the proper balance consistent with our constitutional system. But, in the meantime, for all the above reasons, I will grant [the] requests for an injunction and enter an order that (1) bars the Government from collecting, as part of the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program, any telephone metadata associated with [plaintiffs'] personal Verizon accounts and (2) requires the Government to destroy any such metadata in its possession that was collected through the bulk collection program.

However, in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues, I will stay my order pending appeal….

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