NSA can restart bulk data collection for 6 months, rules court

The American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up for a legal battle following a ruling yesterday evening by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — according to it, the National Security Agency (NSA) can restart its bulk collection of American phone data. The ACLU is planning to challenge the ruling, and will be seeking an injunction against the program via the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Previously this court had ruled that the NSA's bulk collection program was illegal.

The ruling allows for the NSA's program to be temporarily resumed. It was previously stopped come June 1 when the related law allowing for it under the Patriot Act expired. Following this came the Freedom Act, which brought back the provision from the Patriot Act but sans its use for bulk collections.

The Freedom Act provided a 6-month relief period, however, ruling that the provision couldn't be used for bulk collection after the half-year mark. This was to give the applicable government agencies time to transition — agencies that want to restart the program for the duration of those six months.

The move was challenged, but ultimately lost, and the surveillance court has given the go-ahead while challenging the Second Circuit's own ruling. Whether the Second Circuit consider the NSA's collection program to be illegal during this half-year transition period isn't yet clear. News of the collection program first came to light in 2013 via Snowden's leaks.

SOURCE: New York Times