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Judge shoots down federal government phone spying program

This news story was published on December 17, 2013.
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gavel-justiceWASHINGTON – A federal judge has ruled that a federal government initiative involving the collection of phone data is likely unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled Monday that the National Security Agency (NSA) phone metadata program is likely unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, violating the ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

In his order, Judge Leon wrote that the data collection program is an “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary invasion” of privacy of “virtually every single citizen.”

The Washington Post reported this month that the NSA tracks the locations of about 5 billion cellphones every day.

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz agreed with the court’s decision Monday, saying that “the government has no business conducting overbroad surveillance of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The NSA’s massive data mining program raises serious civil liberties concerns, and Judge Leon deserves praise for giving the program a close review. The Senate too must carefully scrutinize our surveillance programs to ensure that they protect American citizens without infringing on their constitutional rights.”

Political analyst Jeff Greenfield tweeted that “The government does not cite a single instance in which…[NSA data sweep] actually stopped an imminent attack.”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden call the ruling a “big step toward restoring 4th Amendment protections. Even more reason to pass our legislation to end bulk collection.”

Judge Leon stayed his order to allow for an appeal. Last month, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the NSA’s telephone metadata spying program.  

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