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Federal court lifts injunction on NSA phone surveillance program

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Friday reversed [opinion, PDF] a ruling that blocked the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] from obtaining call detail records from US citizens. Plaintiffs contended that the NSA's collection of such data violated their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The DC Circuit disagreed and reversed the district court's ban on NSA metadata collection, finding that the plaintiffs lacked standing for failure to prove that NSA had actually collected their own telephone data. The case will now return to the lower court for further proceedings.

This decision follows a decision by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [official website], which ruled [opinion, PDF] in July that the NSA could temporarily resume its program of systematically collecting Americans' phone data in bulk. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in May that the surveillance program is illegal. Several US lawmakers have called [JURIST report] for a review of the government's surveillance activity in light of reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring. The focus on government surveillance policies comes largely as a result of revelations [JURIST backgrounder] by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden [JURIST news archive], who allegedly leaked classified documents, including PRISM and UPSTREAM, in 2013, exposing the scope and breadth of NSA surveillance activities.

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