Federal appeals court refuses to block bulk phone data collection

Federal appeals court refuses to block bulk phone data collection

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Thursday denied [opinion, PDF] a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] to halt the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website]. The appeals court ruled [opinion, PDF] in May that the USA PATRIOT Act [text, PDF] did not authorize [JURIST report] the NSA to collect millions of Americans’ phone records. Congress passed the USA Freedom Act [JURIST report] in June, which restricts the NSA’s ability to collect phone records, but included a six-month transition period, during which the NSA has still been collecting the data. In July the ACLU asked the appeals court to block [JURIST report] the bulk data collection, but the court ruled Thursday that Congress intended for the agency to continue its data collection over the transition period. The new legislation takes effect November 29.

In August the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] reversed [opinion, PDF] a ruling that had blocked [JURIST report] the NSA from obtaining call detail records from US citizens. In June 2013 the ACLU, in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites] filed suit [complaint, PDF] against the NSA challenging [JURIST report] its phone data collection. The NSA had been collecting mass data under the USA PATRIOT Act since it was signed into law in 2001, but the program was only brought to light in 2013 after leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden [JURIST news archive].