The US Federal District Judge Richard Leon, has ruled that the NSA’s mass collection of telephone data could be unlawful. He said the agency’s electronic actions was an “arbitary invasion”.
Judge Leon’s view of the NSA’s surveillance programme was voiced on Monday in a Washington DC federal court, where he called the programme “indiscriminate” and an “almost Orwellian technology that enables the government to store and analyze the phone metadata of every telephone user in the United States”.
The conservative activist Larry Klayman brought a lawsuit against the NSA, after the agency ordered Verizon to disclose all its metadata. Judge Leon ruled the plaintiffs had demonstrated “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their Fourth Amendment claim and that they will suffer irreparable harm absent… relief”, referring to the clause in the US constitution that bars unreasonable search and seizure by the government.
The NSA’s collection of data, which includes telephone numbers and call information, was exposed by Edward Snowden. The White House has dismissed suggestions that Snowden would receive amnesty if he stops leaking documents. Instead press secretary for the White House, Jay Carney, said that Snowden “should be returned to the United States as soon as possible.”
Following the ruling, Snowden issued a statement saying:
“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” he wrote, according to the New York Times.
“Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights,” he added. “It is the first of many.”
As a result of this lawsuit, Mr Klayman explains: “If the NSA continues to do this, they’re now on notice that it’s illegal, and we will seek to have them held in criminal contempt of court.”