NSA Bulk Data Collection Illegal, U.S. Appeals Court Says
NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. spying program that collects data about millions of Americans’ phone calls is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, adding pressure on lawmakers to decide quickly whether to end or replace the program, which was intended to help fight terrorism.
While stopping short of declaring the program unconstitutional, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said Congress did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk.
The existence of the NSA’s collection of “bulk telephony metadata” was first disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Writing for a three-judge panel, Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch said Section 215 of the Patriot Act governing the collection of records to fight terrorism did not authorize what he called the NSA’s collection of a “staggering” amount of information, contrary to claims by the Bush and Obama administrations.