US court renews NSA surveillance program
Iran Press TV
Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:7AM GMT
A US court on Friday reauthorized the National Security Agency's controversial phone collection allowing it to carry out the program for another three months.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which oversees spy agencies, renewed the NSA's authority to continue to warrantlessly collect "metadata" in bulk about people's phone calls, federal bodies have said.
The records, the NSA collects, contain information on which numbers people call, when and how long they talk, excluding the actual content of their conversations.
'Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorisation of the existing program, as modified by the changes the president announced in January,' the US Department of Justice and the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement.
'The Department of Justice and the Director of National Intelligence support this legislation and believe that it reflects a reasonable compromise that preserves essential intelligence community capabilities, enhances privacy and civil liberties, and increases transparency,' it added.
The NSA's surveillance phone records program warrants reauthorization by the FISC every 90 days. The current permit expires on December 5.
The reauthorization comes as a panel of judges in the United States has recently voiced concern about the NSA surveillance program's vast reach at an appeals hearing.
On September 2, Judge Gerard Lynch said the US government is making 'an argument that says nobody's got any constitutional privacy rights in anything anymore' if they hand over information to third parties.
The three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was hearing an appeal about a lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the US government.
Former NSA employee Edward Snowden disclosed the massive surveillance programs of the agency in 2013 which brought it under harsh criticism both in the US and around the world.
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