The NSA can keep spying on phone call metadata through November

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Appeals court deals blow to lawsuit over NSA’s bulk phone data collection.

An appeals court in Washington dealt a setback Friday to an activist’s lawsuit against the government over the legality of the National Security Agency’s call records program, ruling that the plaintiff has not proved his standing to sue. The panel’s ruling also reversed a ban on the NSA’s collection that had been imposed — and temporarily stayed — by a district court judge in December 2013. Williams wrote that Klayman, a conservative legal activist, “lack[s] direct evidence” that records pertaining to his calls “have actually been collected.” Klayman, the lead plaintiff in the suit, is a Verizon Wireless customer. Leon, who found that Klayman “demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success” in his bid to prove that his Fourth Amendment right to privacy was violated and that the NSA program was unconstitutional.

Leon’s fiery opinion drew wide attention not only because it was the first (and only) trial court to rule against the program but also because of its colorful, headline-grabbing language. The government confirmed the program’s existence in June 2013 after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked a classified court order to Verizon Business Networks Services directing it to turn over “all call detail records” to the government. Klayman lashed out at the judicial panel for its timing. “An ill-informed first-year law student could have written this within one day,” he said. “Why did you wait nearly two years after Leon issued his decision? The court in Klayman’s case observed that his effort to prove standing was complicated by the possibility that the government could withhold information that would bolster his allegations. “Plaintiffs’ claims may well founder in that event,” said Circuit Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown. “But such is the nature of the government’s privileged control over certain classes of information.” The ruling, said Harley Geiger, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, “demonstrates that excessive secrecy limits debate and reform.

It leads to unbalanced surveillance programs and provides victims with little or no recourse.” At the end of the transition period, the NSA will be barred from collecting domestic phone records in bulk under the Patriot Act.

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