NSA Data-Sweep Lawfulness Challenged in NY Appeal Hearing

The National Security Agency’s program of collecting phone records, deemed lawful by a Manhattanfederal judge, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union as the most sweeping surveillance operation ever directed against the American public by the government.

The ACLU urged a three-member appeals panel to overturn the lower court ruling at a hearing in New York today.

The lawsuit filed in June 2013 is one of several challenging the NSA’s data collection program, first revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden. A U.S. district judge in Washington called the program “almost Orwellian” in a December ruling and said it probably violates constitutional privacy rights. The Obama administration appealed the ruling.

The ACLU is a customer of Verizon Business Network Services, which was secretly ordered by a national security court to turn over data on customers, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper that cited Snowden’s documents.

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