Judge rules NSA's phone data collection program is legal, tosses ACLU suit
The metadata collection represents "the natural tension between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberty," judge says
IDG News Service - A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. National Security Agency's bulk phone record metadata collection efforts are legal, turning aside a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union brought against the agency.
While the collection program "vacuums up information about virtually every call to, from, or within the United States," it also allows the NSA to "detect relationship so attenuated and ephemeral they would otherwise escape notice," Judge William Pauley III wrote in his 54-page decision filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Overall, the metadata collection serves as the U.S. government's "counter-punch: connecting fragmented and fleeting communications to re-construct and eliminate Al-Qaeda's terror network," Pauley wrote.
There also is "no evidence that the Government has used any of the bulk telephony metadata it collected for any purpose other than investigating and disrupting terrorist attacks," he added. "While there have been unintentional violations of guidelines, those appear to stem from human error and the incredibly complex computer programs that support this vital tool."
The ACLU plans to appeal the ruling, according to a statement it released Friday. We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the governments surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections, ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in the statement.
Details of the NSA's domestic surveillance practices emerged this year through a series of disclosures by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the agency. Snowden is now in temporary aslyum in Russia.
Snowden's actions, while unauthorized, have "provoked a public debate and this litigation," Pauley said. The metadata collection program represents "the natural tension between protecting the nation and preserving civil liberty," he wrote.
Pauley noted that the court's role was only to determine whether the program is legal. "The Court finds it is," he wrote. "But the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of Government to decide."
His ruling comes less than two weeks after another federal judge harshly criticized the NSA program and said it could be unconstitutional.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts