Talking tech since 2003

The latest legal pronouncement regarding the government’s collection of our phone metadata is in, as a federal court of appeals in New York has ruled that it is illegal for the NSA to do what it’s been doing with impunity for the last few years.

We’ve been fighting this fight for a while now…

The court’s three judges ruled unanimously, reported the New York Times on Thursday. The ruling explained that Section 215 of the Patriot Act—the section upon which the NSA judged the legality of its actions—“cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”

However, the court did not issue an injunction for the NSA to stop doing it. So there’s that.

Meanwhile, the report explains that the House of Representatives is preparing to pass a bill that would kill the metadata collection practices, but preserve the agency’s right to examine links between callers and potential acts of terrorism. The metadata would stay within the hands of the phone companies that generate it, says the report.

What’s interesting is that this isn’t the first time a judge has ruled on the practice. Back in December of 2013, a judge ruled that the NSA’s metadata collection was legal—while a few weeks earlier, a different judge ruled that it wasn’t. A few months later President Barack Obama proposed a plan to put a stop to the collection of metadata, but since we’re still talking about it over a year later, I’ll give you three guesses as to how that turned out.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks, and whether or not the House or Senate takes action to extend the NSA’s powers as they are, or to rewrite the laws to make legal what these judges say is illegal.

[Source: New York Times]

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