On 2 January 2014 both the New York Times and the Guardian published editorials calling on the US Government to reevaluate its attitude towards Edward Snowden, who currently faces three criminal charges, including two under the 1917 Espionage Act.
Judge William Paley’s opinion and order of 27 December 2013 holds that the NSA’s bulk collection of domestic phone metadata is lawful under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and the Fourth Amendment, granting the government’s motion to dismiss a case brought by the ACLU.
Payley’s ruling in the Southern District of New York conflicts with a recent decision of Judge Richard J. Leon in the District of Columbia, increasing the likelihood that the US Supreme Court will be called upon to adjudicate the issue. The ACLU plans to appeal the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals: see the ACLU article, ALCU v Clapper – Challenge to NSA Mass Call-Tracking Program, 27 December 2013.
Judge Richard J. Leon’s ruling of 16 December 2013 in the US district court for the District of Columbia concludes that the NSA’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone metadata likely constitutes “an unreasonable search under the fourth amendement.” This ruling grants an injunction against the collection of the plaintiffs’ metadata, stayed pending appeal.
Less than two weeks after this ruling, Judge William Paley moved to dismiss a similar action brought by the ACLU in the district court of the Southern District of New York. Conflict in the lower courts increases the likelihood that the US Supreme Court will eventually be called upon to adjudicate the issue: see the Guardian article, NSA phone surveillance program likely unconstitutional, federal judge rules, 16 December 2013.
This 2007 US Department of Justice memo argues that analysis of US metadata is “consistent with” the Fourth Amendment, FISA and the electronic surveillance provisions of the United States Code [the Code of Laws of the United States of America] because the data is already in the NSA’s databases: see the Guardian article NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama, 27 June 2013.