News

U.S. judge rules phone surveillance program is likely unlawful

U.S. judge rules phone surveillance program is likely unlawful

PHONE TAP: Judge says the government's collection of massive amounts of data about telephone calls is likely unlawful. Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government’s collection of massive amounts of data about telephone calls, a program revealed in June after leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is likely unlawful, a judge ruled on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon stayed his own ruling pending an expected appeal by the government, but in a significant challenge to U.S. spying authority, he wrote that the program likely violated Americans’ right to be free of unreasonable searches.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen,” Leon wrote, citing earlier court precedent.

The U.S. Justice Department was reviewing the ruling, a spokesman said.

The British newspaper The Guardian reported in June that a U.S. surveillance court had secretly approved the collection of millions of raw daily phone records, such as the length of calls and the numbers that are dialed. The data collected do not include actual conversations, U.S. officials said.

Civil liberties advocates have called the database an intrusion on privacy and they sued to end it, while the government has said the ability to search data going back seven years is crucial to fighting militant groups such as al Qaeda.

Leon expressed skepticism of the program’s value, writing that the government could not cite a single instance in which the bulk data actually stopped an imminent attack.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Howard Goller, Chizu Nomiyama and Bernard Orr)

Recently Played

Latest Headlines

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 3

kevinbaconkyrasedgwick

Here's a look at some of Hollywood's most memorable headlines.

in Entertainment

Gary Busey, Tamar Braxton round out new ‘DWTS’ cast

17-overlay3

The 21st season of "Dancing With The Stars" promises to be a wild ride.

in Entertainment, Sports

Was ‘Concussion’ altered to avoid angering the NFL?

10-overlay1

Hacked Sony emails appear to show that the m arketing plans for the movie were positioned to focus on the story of a whistle-blower, rather than a condemnation of the sport.

in Viral Videos

How to make work better

21-overlay3

Some of these tips are actually helpful ... but mostly they're just hilarious.

in Music

Keith Richards is ready to record

keithrichards

The legendary guitarist is trying to get his bandmates on board as soon as possible.