Is the CIA unconstitutional

Late win for SnowdenCourt declares NSA data retention illegal

A US court ruled Wednesday that the NSA's US data retention was illegal and possibly unconstitutional. The American civil rights organization ACLU, among others, had sued.

The verdict contains several references to the role of former NSA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden in the disclosure of the surveillance program. The court comes to the conclusion that the "mass collection" of such data violates the law on oversight in foreign intelligence (FISA).

However, the court did not rule that the NSA's snooping was definitely unconstitutional. However, it rejected Justice Department arguments that metadata collection was based on a 40-year-old precedent and claimed that customers voluntarily shared such information with telephone operators.

14 years of illegal data retention

The surveillance program, during which the NSA collected the connection data of all phone calls from millions of Americans, was unveiled in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden. With his leaks, Snowden had brought the biggest surveillance scandal in history to the public.

Data retention began without any judicial decision after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 under President George W. Bush. It was then similarly approved by the secret FISA court in 2006 and extended several times. The program was discontinued in 2015.

Edward Snowden is pleased with the verdict:

Seven years ago, when the news announced that I was being charged as a criminal for telling the truth, I could never have imagined that I would see our courts condemn the NSA's activities as unlawful and myself would credit in the same judgment that I uncovered them.

And yet that day has come.
(our translation)

Snowden is still stuck in exile in Russia because other countries such as Germany do not grant him asylum and because he is threatened with prosecution in the United States.

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About the author

Markus Reuter

Markus Reuter deals with the topics of digital rights, hate speech & censorship, fake news & social bots, right-wing extremists online, video surveillance, basic and civil rights and social movements. At netzpolitik.org since March 2016 as an editor. He can be reached at markus.reuter | ett | netzpolitik.org and on Twitter at @markusreuter_
Published 03/09/2020 at 10:27 am