U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon on Monday ruled that the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) daily collection of virtually all Americans' phone records is almost certainly unconstitutional.
"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 and analyzing it without prior judicial approval," Leon said in his ruling. "Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment."
The decision contradicts the secret deliberations of 15 judges on the U.S.'s surveillance court, which only hears the government's side of cases and has maintained that NSA's program is lawful. "We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found," says Justice Department spokesperson Andrew Ames.
The ruling, which Leon put aside pending a government appeal, comes as Congress debates whether to end NSA's bulk collection of phone data or endorse it in a federal statute. Leon said the size and scope of NSA's program amounts to a "dragnet" that uses "almost-Orwellian technology" to intrude on people's privacy and is "at best, the stuff of science fiction."
From The Washington Post
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