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Ninth Circuit panel partially dismisses NSA surveillance case as moot

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday partially dismissed [opinion, PDF] the lawsuit of a nurse challenging the National Security Agency's (NSA) [official website] bulk collection of cellphone metadata. The lawsuit, ruled on by a three-judge panel, was brought by Idaho nurse Anna Smith, who sued the government in 2013 claiming the NSA's controversial bulk collection program violated Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. The judges dismissed this claim, finding that the replacement of the USA Patriot Act with the USA Freedom Act [texts], which prohibits any further bulk collection of tangible things after November 28, 2015, made her claim moot. Smith also argues that her records are being illegally retained by the government and should be destroyed, a claim the court remanded to the lower court to determine whether it is also moot.

Data collection and government surveillance continues to be a contentious issue world wide. In February the US Department of Justice filed a motion to compel [JURIST report] Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Earlier that month, the Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK Parliament released a report [JURIST report] outlining its concerns with the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill than plans to expand data collection and Internet spying. In January the Ontario Superior Court ruled [JURIST report] that police orders requiring telecommunications companies to hand over cellphone user data breached the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. In November the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order allowing the NSA to continue compiling telephone records of a California-based law firm, just one week after a federal judge ruled [JURIST reports] against the part of the agency's surveillance program involving the bulk collection of domestic phone records.

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