The NSA has been authorized to resume bulk collection of American phone records while expired Patriot Act provisions give way to modified data collection practices under the USA Freedom Act.
According to an order on Monday by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the federal government’s request to renew dragnet data collection of U.S. phone metadata until November 29, 2015 was approved. As the Freedom Act reportedly prepares to implement limitations regarding some aspects of NSA surveillance, the legislation provides a “transition period” in which the NSA will be allowed to temporarily continue its controversial data collection practices that a federal appeals court had declared illegal in May.
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“This application presents the question whether the recently-enacted USA FREEDOM Act, in amending Title V of FISA, ended the bulk collection of telephone metadata. The short answer is yes. But in doing so, Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application in this case,” stated the order.
The Department of Justice had filed a request in June seeking to continue bulk data collection. The request, written by Justice Department national security chief John Carlin, cited the Freedom Act’s “orderly transition” clause and appeared to be asking FISA to ignore the May appeals court ruling.
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“The Second Circuit’s recent panel opinion in ACLU v. Clapper, No. 14-42 (2d Cir. May 7, 2015) does not bar this Court from authorizing the production in bulk of call 6 detail records, notwithstanding its holding that Section 1861 does not authorize the bulk production of call detail records,” Carlin wrote in the June 2 request.