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

Chris Pratt goes from slob to heartthrob

Fresh
chrispratt

With a more buff physique than his character Andy Dwyer on "Parks and Recreation," Pratt combines cocky and dorky into an unlikely leader of a band of outcasts bent on saving the galaxy.

in Viral Videos

Little girl doesn’t want her brother to grow up

Sister Grows Up

Five-year-old Sadie doesn't want her little brother to grow up because he's too cute now as a baby.

in Entertainment

Drew Barrymore’s sister found dead

Updated
drewbarrymore

Jessica Barrymore, daughter of actors John Drew Barrymore and Nina Wayne, was found dead in her car.

in Entertainment

Justin Bieber and Orlando Bloom nearly come to blows

bloom

The actor and the troubled pop star reportedly got into an altercation early Wednesday at a party in Ibiza, Spain.

in Entertainment

Paramount apologizes for ‘Ninja Turtle’ 9/11 tweet

turtles

The film studio apologized for a poster showing the four "TMNT" characters jumping down from an exploding skyscraper with a Sept. 11 release date.