Courts

Dec 17, 2013 12:27 PM by David Randall

Surveillance ruling

For the first time a federal judge has ruled that it's unconstitutional for the government to collect our phone records.

A Washington lawyer challenged the NSA's secret surveillance program and won - for now.

The National Security Agency is collecting so much secret data that it is building a new facility in Utah to hold it all.

But a federal judge says collecting records of every phone call made to and from Americans unconstitutional -- an "indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion of privacy." "It's untargeted, it's in bulk, and that's what makes it more troubling," said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

The judge says a 1979 ruling that said Americans do not have a right to private phone records is outdated because everyone has a cellphone now.

The NSA has defended its program, saying they only tap into that database when there's evidence to suspect someone in the U.S. is collaborating with terrorists. "The reason we use secrecy, is not to hide from the American people, not to hide it from you, but to hide it from those who walk among you who are trying to kill you," said NSA Director General Keith Alexander.

But the judge said there's little evidence terrorists have ever been caught from these phone records.

In a statement Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who first revealed the secret surveillance, predicts this ruling will be the first of many.

It'll likely come up today when President Obama meets with CEOs from the nation's biggest tech companies.

The judge put a hold on his own ruling, so for now the NSA can still collect your phone records.

 

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