It’s a See-Saw Ride for NSA’s Surveillance Program
Thursday saw a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York declare that the National Security Agency’s Mass Surveillance Program, which collates the telephone records of Americans, exceeds its authority and is illegal.
The revelation last year by NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, about the phone surveillance operation, caused a massive uproar among the public. This had President, Barack Obama, ask the Congress for bringing in changes wherein the phone data remains only with the private phone companies and the government can ask for access to it only in case of any suspicious activity.
The surveillance program at question has been at the receiving end, way too many times. This program, which gathers users’ phone call records, does not, however snoop on its content. It has been subjected to various judgments until date. First, came in a ruling by a federal judge in Washington who declared it as unconstitutional. The same was supported by a New York judge too. Next, in September, the 2nd circuit appeals court grew cynical about the program’s claim of guarding against terrorism. In December, a US District Court Judge granted an injunction against the program. However, two weeks later, another District Judge reversed it.
The current ruling by the Court of Appeals states that the current surveillance program falls beyond the scope of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, which allow the government to secretly collect sensitive data. However, the USA Patriot Act expires in June this year and therefore, the court did not order an immediate stalling of data collection under it.
The long drawn-out judgment, however, did not confirm if the surveillance program was unconstitutional or not. The final decision ultimately lies with the Supreme Court.
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