Sources state that on Thursday, a panel of three federal judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the NSA’s bulk-phone records spying program was illegal.
Reuters states: “Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans’ calling records in bulk.
“Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for a three-judge panel that Section 215, which addresses the FBI’s ability to gather business records, could not be interpreted to have permitted the NSA to collect a “staggering” amount of phone records, contrary to claims by the Bush and Obama administrations.”
Also, According to the National Journal, more court decisions are on the way:
“Two other appeals courts have in recent months heard arguments considering the legality of the NSA bulk telephone program, but neither has issued a ruling yet. Any split among the courts likely will prompt a Supreme Court review.
Boing Boing and The Electronic Frontier Foundation state:
1. When Congress gave the NSA the power to gather “relevant” information and do so for an “investigation,” they didn’t mean “gather everything and store it forever in case it becomes relevant later.”
2. Having your data collected by the NSA gives you the right to sue them — even if the NSA never looked at that data.
3. Metadata is sensitive information, and the NSA can’t argue that its mass-spying is harmless because it’s collecting metadata instead of data (the fact that you called a suicide hotline is every bit as compromising as what you said while you were talking to them).
4. The judges have “concerns” about the constitutionality of mass spying (though the didn’t go so far as to say that it is unconstitutional, partly because the ACLU had already won on the statutory language alone).
5. One judge added: The government shouldn’t have secret laws. The government argued that its interpretation of surveillance laws was a secret, and the court spanked them for it, saying that a law that’s “shrouded in secrecy” lacked legitimacy.