Court order authorizing NSA spying is released

The NSA has released documents that include the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order that authorized the agency’s mass surveillance of Internet communications.

The Guardian reports that the ruling, which was heavily redacted (including its date), shows that:

  • Former presiding FISA court judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that collection of metadata but not content of emails and other online communications was in line with the “purpose” of Congress and previous court rulings.
  • The judge ruled that metadata, which includes information such as the participants in an email exchange, was not protected by the Fourth Amendment.
  • Although Kollar-Kotelly called the collection “a novel use of statutory authorities for pen register/trap and trace surveillance,” she said “deference” should be given to national-security concerns.

The scope of NSA spying was revealed over the summer after former government tech contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents to the media. Among the revelations so far, based on reports from the leaks: In the name of fighting terrorism, the agency is collecting online-communications information from foreign and American users of services provided by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other tech companies. The NSA also is collecting phone-call data from U.S. wireless carriers. And most recently, the NSA is said to have been tapping secretly into Google and Yahoo Internet traffic passing through data centers outside the United States.

The Guardian notes that after Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling, a court ruling later found that “systemic overcollection” had occurred.

In related news, a group of  journalistic organizations on Monday filed a brief in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, saying that the NSA’s collection of call records undermined press freedom. “When the risk of prosecution reaches such sources, quality reporting is diminished,” the filing said, according to the Washington Post. The brief backs a lawsuit filed over the summer by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which calls for an end to the sweeping collection of phone records.


Photo of the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md., by the Associated Press


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  • king Obama

    Big brother is watching! Because listening is overrated!!

  • The dystopian fantasies of yesteryear are now a reality. We’ve allowed the coming of an age where the civil liberties our forefathers fought so hard for are being eroded by the day. Freedom of Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are mere ghostly images of their original intent. We’ve woken up to an Orwellian Society of Fear where anyone is at the mercy of being labeled a terrorist for standing up for rights we took for granted just over a decade ago. Read about how we’re waging war against ourselves at