Contrary to the Bush and Obama administrations’ justifications that the Patriot Act allowed massive collection of phone data as necessary in countering terrorism efforts, the New York-based Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Section 215 of the law could not legally authorize the collection of citizens’ phone records in bulk.
“Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans," Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote.
The surveillance program exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013 has sparked a fierce debate in the U.S. around government surveillance and privacy. Is giving up our privacy in order to fend off terrorist threats worth knowing Big Brother is constantly watching us like a hawk?
The NSA program collects hefty amounts of metadata meaning the time, duration and date of phone calls, but not the actual conversation and with whom.
The court did not immediately condemn the program as unconstitutional, however, noting that Congress is still debating whether to reauthorize the program or allow it to expire on June 1.