(WASHINGTON) — A federal judge ruled in favor of two challengers to the NSA surveillance program Monday, finding that they will likely succeed in showing that the bulk collection program violated the Fourth Amendment.
“The Plaintiffs have a substantial likelihood of showing that their privacy interests outweigh the Government’s interest in collecting and analyzing bulk telephony metadata and therefore the NSA’s bulk collection program is indeed an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon.
Leon issued a preliminary injunction, barring the NSA from collecting records of Larry Klayman and Charles Strange who challenged the program that collects telephone metadata of millions of citizens.
However, Leon stayed his order, pending appeal. He said he fully expects that during the appellate process, “which will consume at least the next six months,” the government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld.
Leon was critical of the government saying, “I am not convinced at this point in this litigation that the NSA’s database has ever truly served the purpose of rapidly identifying terrorists in time sensitive investigations, and so I am certainly not convinced that the removal of two individuals from the database will ‘degrade’ the program in any meaningful sense.”
The judge limited his ruling to the plaintiffs involved and only with regard to the government’s bulk collection and querying of phone record metadata.
Another challenge to the program is being brought by the ACLU in a federal appeals court in New York. That court has yet to rule.
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