Judge calls for NSA to halt phone records program

A federal judge on Monday called for the Obama administration to immediately halt its controversial collection of Americans’ phone records, mere days before the contested program is set to end.

In his ruling, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia doubled down on his assertion that the National Security Agency (NSA) program “likely violates the Construction” and warned that “the loss of constitutional freedoms for even one day is a significant harm.”

Monday’s ruling comes nearly two years after he initially called the NSA program “almost Orwellian,” and slightly less than three weeks before it is scheduled to end.

As such, the decision “is perhaps the last chapter in the judiciary’s evaluation of this particular program’s compatibility with the Constitution,” he wrote.

“It will not, however, be the last chapter in the ongoing struggle to balance privacy rights and national security interests under our Constitution in an age of evolving technological wizardry.”

Ultimately, the legal process makes it unlikely that the NSA will have to reverse course before the program is set to end later this month.

But civil liberties advocates nonetheless greeted the decision as a major victory that could be used to spur additional legal takedowns of U.S. spying programs.

The NSA program collects “metadata” about millions of Americans’ phone records without a warrant. The metadata include the numbers dialed in a call, when the calls occurred and how long the call lasted, but not the actual content of people’s conversations...


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