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Different Judge Now Rules NSA Metadata Collection Legal
by Karl Bode 02:35PM Friday Dec 27 2013
Earlier this month, DC District Judge Richard Leon issued an injunction on the NSA's bulk collection of metadata, arguing it is likely violating the Fourth Amendment. Now Judge William H Pauley III, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, has issued a ruling stating that NSA metadata collection is lawful, arguing that Fourth Amendment protections don't apply to records held by third parties, like phone companies:
quote:
“This blunt tool only works because it collects everything,” Judge Pauley said in the ruling. While robust discussions are underway across the nation, in Congress and at the White House, the question for this court is whether the government’s bulk telephony metadata program is lawful. This court finds it is,” he added.
The ruling only nudges an inevitable Supreme Court ruling closer. While Pauley opines that the wholesale collection of metadata "works," evidence backing up that assertion appears to be in short supply. Different from the NSA's use of telco fiber splits and wiretaps to collect entire traffic streams, the agency's metadata collection was exposed this year after Snowden leaks showed the telco was handing metadata daily to the NSA -- including location data, unique identifiers, the call duration and time of all calls, and the identities of both callers for millions of calls.

The disclosure resulted in an ACLU (a Verizon customer) lawsuit over the legality of the practice. Today's ruling can be found here (pdf), and an ACLU statement on the ruling is here.


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