Vancouver, BC – Today, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the widespread collection of telephone metadata by the National Security Agency (NSA) likely constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure that violates American citizens’ Fourth Amendment privacy rights.
The U.S. case was filed in June after revelations about intelligence collection and surveillance programs around the world. The lawsuit challenged the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata information. The plaintiffs’ asked the Court to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the NSA from continuing to collect metadata from the plaintiffs’ cellphone accounts.
Judge Leon criticized the NSA’s indiscriminate collection program, stating: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.”
The Court ordered the NSA to stop collecting data on the plaintiffs’ cellphone accounts. However, the order is being held in suspension to give the U.S. justice department time to appeal.
In October, the BCCLA filed a similar lawsuit in Canada challenging the collection of Canadians’ private communications and metadata by the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). BCCLA counsel, Caily DiPuma, reacted to today’s ruling: “The BCCLA is very pleased with today’s U.S. court decision, which confirms what we have said in our lawsuit: indiscriminate and widespread surveillance of citizens by government is unconstitutional.”