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Appeals Court Refuses To Shut Down NSA Bulk Collection Program Early

A federal appeals court has refused to put an early end to a National Security Agency program that collects data about Americans' telephone calls in bulk.

The American Civil Liberties Union had asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a preliminary injunction against the program, because the court had ruled that it went beyond what Congress intended when it wrote Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

A three-judge panel of the court issued that decision in May, but in June, Congress passed a new law that overhauled that surveillance program.

If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that puts that database in the hands of phone companies but still allows the government to query it for specific data.

Today, the appeals court said that it was better to let the program come to an "orderly" end, instead of issuing the injunction and stopping it early.

The Court concluded:

"Congress reacted to growing privacy concerns by passing the Freedom Act and ending the bulk telephone metadata collection program, and transitioning to a new targeted surveillance program aimed at protecting the United States from foreign terrorism. What if any legal challenges arise from the new system have yet to be seen. Congress has balanced privacy and national security by providing for a 180‐day transition period, a decision that it is uniquely suited to make. Congress's decision to do so should be respected."

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