Court Rules That NSA Phone Spying Was Wrong and Illegal

Judges urge Congress to change the program.

Photo by Flickr user Susanne Nilsson.

Thanks to the actions of Edward Snowden, a US appeals court handed down a decision today declaring the NSA’s mass telephone metadata collection illegal (unfortunately, there’s not a single word of the 97-page decision devoted to chastising the NSA for its surveillance of your dick pics). The three-judge panel, based in New York, urged Congress to reconsider the application of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which national security agencies have interpreted broadly to justify the data collection. They didn’t, however, end the program, instead deferring to the discretion of Congress.

"Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans," Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote. "We would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language. There is no evidence of such a debate."