[JURIST] The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official website] on Tuesday released an order [text, PDF] allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] to collect telephone records under the new intelligence law passed by congress last year. The order was formally issued on December 21 and only came to light when it was posted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence [official website]. The order signed by FISC Chief Judge Thomas Hoganheld that the surveillance measures sent to the court were in compliance with the USA Freedom Act [JURIST report], signed into law last year. The surveillance application has been noted not to target specific records or data without specific justification.
The passage of the USA Freedom Act was driven largely by efforts to reform the NSA that came after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden [JURIST archive] leaked information about the bulk collection of phone records in 2013. In November a federal judge ruled against [JURIST report] part of the NSA’s surveillance program that collected domestic phone records in bulk. Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia said that the program was most likely unconstitutional and shut down the program just weeks before the NSA was scheduled to scrap it and replace it. In his opinion, Leon stated that the constitutional issues related to the program were “too important” to leave unanswered after questions regarding the program arose after its inception soon after September 11, 2001.