A new law, called the Freedom Act, which substantially reformed and narrowed the bulk phone data program, was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama a day after the existing program lapsed on June 1.
The Freedom Act also allowed the existing surveillance program to continue for a six-month transition period, but it remained in legal limbo pending Monday’s ruling by a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“In passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress clearly intended to end bulk data collection … But what it took away with one hand, it gave back – for a limited time – with another,” wrote Michael Mosman, a judge on the surveillance court.
In his ruling, first reported by the New York Times, Mosman rejected the May ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the Patriot Act had never authorized the NSA to collect Americans’ phone records in bulk.
“Second Circuit rulings are not binding on the F.I.S.C. and this court respectfully disagrees with that court’s analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act,” he wrote.
The U.S. Justice Department welcomed the decision.
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