U.S. Court: NSA spying program was illegal
Image credit: EFF.

U.S. Court: NSA spying program was illegal

File this one in the “too little, too late” bin: A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has ruled that the NSA’s metadata bulk collection program was a violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

According to the Summary of the findings, “The government may have violated the Fourth Amendment when it collected the telephony metadata of millions of Americans.”

The NSA metadata collection program has supposedly been shut down since 2015 after its existence was confirmed via Edward Snowden.

In 2020, the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released a report defending the program’s legality under the 2015 USA Freedom Act, but also noting that it didn’t work: CDRs (call data records) were cited in only 15 intelligence reports over 2 years, and only two provided “unique information” to the FBI. In one of those cases, the FBI took no further action after investigating “an individual.”

We can claim this as a small but important win for 4th Amendment rights.