DOJ appeals ruling against NSA phone snooping

The Justice Department files an appeal of a federal court ruling that found the NSA's bulk collection of phone records to likely be unconstitutional.

Declan McCullagh/CNET

The legal back-and-forth continues over the US National Security Agency's collection of Americans' phone records.

The US Department of Justice on Friday filed an appeal of a federal court ruling issued last month that found the NSA surveillance program to be likely unconstitutional.

US District Judge Richard Leon ruled on December 16 that the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata may violate the Fourth Amendment and "certainly does violate a reasonable expectation of privacy." Leon issued preliminary injunctions in the case, Klayman vs. Obama, to halt the NSA's phone metadata collection and to have the data already collected be destroyed, but stayed the ruling to allow for appeals.

The judge previously said he expects the appellate process will consume "at least the next six months."

The Justice Department's appeal comes just one day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed an appeal challenging the dismissal of its lawsuit against the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. In that case, ACLU vs. James R. Clapper, US District Judge William Pauley ruled that the US government had a pressing need for the surveillance program as a method for detecting and preventing terrorist attacks and that it did not go to unreasonable lengths in that pursuit.

Both cases stem from revelations about the NSA's collection of US citizens' phone and Internet data that were detailed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 

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