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Judge Rules NSA Program Collecting American’s Telephone Metadata Likely Unconstitutional, Violating Fourth Amendment (w/ Snowden Statement)

In Archive, NSA, Surveillance on December 16, 2013 at 2:43 PM


Josh Gerstein/POLITICO:

A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency program which collects information on nearly all telephone calls made to, from or within the United States is likely to be unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon found that the program appears to run afoul of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. He also said the Justice Department had failed to demonstrate that collecting the so-called metadata had helped to head off terrorist attacks.

Acting on a lawsuit brought by conservative legal activist Larry Klayman, Leon issued a preliminary injunction barring the NSA from collecting metadata pertaining to the Verizon accounts of Klayman and one of his clients. However, the judge stayed the order to allow for an appeal.

“Plaintiffs have a very significant expectation of privacy in an aggregated collection of their telephone metadata covering the last five years, and the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program significantly intrudes on that expectation,” wrote Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “I have significant doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,” Leon added.

Edward Snowden Statement via Glenn Greenwald

“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights. It is the first of many.”

Related Link: NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily

UPDATE: US Govt Appeals Ruling Denouncing NSA’s Mass Phone Surveillance as Unconstitutional (Appeal/PDF)

  1. […] The ruling aligns with the lower court decision in a similar lawsuit in Washington, Klayman v. Obama, in which U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon found the NSA program to be likely unconstitutional. […]


  2. […] was only the beginning. Since then we’ve seen federal courts rule against these programs in the United States. We’ve seen the European Court of Justice strike down the data retention directive (PDF) […]


  3. […] many times. Several district courts have already ruled on the program, with one calling it “almost Orwellian.” In their report on the program, the Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) […]


  4. […] The 30-year-old American mentioned that “two separate White House investigations, as well as a [US] federal court, all concluded that these programs are ineffective in stopping terrorism” in […]


  5. […] hailing – is a potent vindication of Edward Snowden’s acts and the reporting he enabled. First, a federal court found the program unconstitutional. Then, one of the President’s own panels rejected the NSA’s claim that it was necessary in […]


  6. […] Today, Larry Klayman, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor, announced that he and the other plaintiffs in prior successful litigation (case no. 13-cv-851 and 881) against the NSA and other Government Defendants, including President Obama, have re-filed their class action demand in a new proceeding before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The new case which will be assigned to Judge Richard J. Leon as related, is the only class action lawsuit that has actually been filed against the NSA and other Government Defendants. It (case no. 14-cv-92) was filed to streamline the earlier cases, also before Judge Leon, which are on appeal with a petition for writ of certiorari soon to be filed. The writ, if granted, will allow the cases to leapfrog the intermediate appellate court and go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the prior cases, Judge Leon found that the NSA’s massive metadata surveillance on nearly all Americans without regard to their having any connection to terrorism, as “almost Orwellian” in its violation of Fourth Amendment rights. […]


  7. […] having to think about what it’s going to look like on their permanent record. Particularly when we now have courts, reports from the federal government, and even statements from Congress making it clear these […]


  8. […] its utility in fighting terrorism. In December, a federal judge found that the metadata program was likely unconstitutional and wrote that he had ”serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program.” […]


  9. […] Larry Klayman. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon agreed with Klayman’s arguments last month, ruling that the NSA’s metadata collection violates the Fourth Amendment. The Paul advisor said that […]


  10. […] happen as quickly as Greenwald, Snowden and others have hoped; despite a series of considerable victories for privacy advocates as of late, a federal judge in New York said moments before Friday’s […]


  11. […] LeakSource 0 likesLeaksAmendmentAmerican’sCollectingFourthJUDGELikelyMetadataProgramRulesSnowdenStatementTelephoneUnconstitutionalViolating […]


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