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FISA Court Rules NSA Bulk Phone Metadata Collection Program Can Resume

National Security Agency logo On Monday the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the National Security Agency (NSA) can temporarily resume for six months its bulk collection of metadata about Americans' phone calls. The program had ended on June 1 when the law it was based upon, Secton 215 of the USA Patriot Act, expired. The New York Times reported:

"Congress revived that provision on June 2 with a bill called the USA Freedom Act, which said the provision could not be used for bulk collection after six months. The six-month period was intended to give intelligence agencies time to move to a new system in which the phone records — which include information like phone numbers and the duration of calls but not the contents of conversations — would stay in the hands of phone companies."

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in May that the bulk phone records program violated the USA Patriot Act. Also:

"... After President Obama signed the Freedom Act on June 2, his administration applied to restart the program for six months. But a conservative and libertarian advocacy group, FreedomWorks, filed a motion in the surveillance court saying it had no legal authority to permit the program to resume,"

The FISA Court ruled against the motion by FreedomWorks. For those interested, read the full text of the June 29, 2015 FISA Court opinion.

Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement:

"I see no reason for the Executive Branch to restart bulk collection, even for a few months. This illegal dragnet surveillance violated Americans' rights for fourteen years without making our country any safer... It is disappointing that the {Obama] administration is seeking to resurrect this unnecessary and invasive program after it has already been shut down. However I am relieved this will be the final five months of Patriot Act mass surveillance... It will take a concerted effort by everyone who cares about Americans' privacy and civil liberties to continue making inroads against government overreach."

So, while the official bulk phone records collection program is ending on November 29, 2015, one could argue that not much has really changed since experts say the telephone companies will perform the phone records collection and archiving instead.

What are your opinions?


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