On Thursday morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not authorize some of the sweeping surveillance programs the NSA and other intelligence agencies use.
The judges rejected the government’s argument that Section 215 is not even reviewable by the courts and determined that bulk telephone-metadata gathering is not authorized under the Patriot Act. The ruling comes as Congress considers reauthorizing Section 215, which is set to expire on June 1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been leading the push to extend these provisions.
Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:
“Today’s ruling confirms that collecting data on the phone calls hundreds of millions of Americans make every day is a gross distortion of the law. The NSA claims that every telephone call ever made by anyone, anywhere, might be relevant someday to some kind of investigation. But that’s just a recipe for unjustifiably collecting the private information of innocent people with a massive dragnet that catches information relevant to no investigations at all.
“This landmark decision is the result of the hard work of organizations like the ACLU and the NYCLU, which have championed First and Fourth Amendment rights for decades and took the lead in this case.
“Senator McConnell should honor the court’s decision and abandon his plan to reauthorize Section 215. Congress needs to let Section 215 expire and get serious about reforming surveillance programs that violate the free speech and privacy rights of so many people.”
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