Appeals court rules NSA's phone metadata collection program was illegal

The ruling was in connection with appeal case for four Somali immigrants found guilty of sending money to terrorist group al-Shabaab

Updated: September 3, 2020 - 12:46pm

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A federal appeals court has ruled that a National Security Agency’s surveillance program that allowed the federal government to gather data from U.S. citizens’ telephone calls was illegal and potentially unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday ruled that the program, which Congress officially ended in 2015, violated U.S. surveillance laws and potentially the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, according to The Hill newspaper

The court ruling was in connection with the 2013 conviction of four Somali immigrants for sending money to the terrorist group al-Shabaab. The judges upheld the conviction while concluding the NSA program had violated federal law. 

The program was revealed in 2013 by Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor charged in the U.S. in connection with espionage.

The NSA’s metadata collection program was created and approved by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after the passage of the Patriot Act in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Hill also reports.


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