Judges: Admin.’s brief on NSA data program would justify massive data dragnet of financial, medical records

Judges: Admin.’s brief on NSA data program would justify massive data dragnet of financial, medical records
(Image: White House video)

In an opinion issued today on behalf of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Judge Gerard Lynch—who was appointed by President Barack Obama–said the argument the administration presented in defense of a National Security Agency program that collects virtually all U.S. telephone records would result, if accepted, in “an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans.”

“If the government is correct, it could use §215 to collect and store in bulk any other existing metadata available anywhere in the private sector, including metadata associated with financial records, medical records, and electronic communications (including e‐mail and social media information) relating to all Americans,” wrote Judge Lynch in the case of ACLU v. Clapper.

“Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans,” the judge said. …

The immediate issue Judge Lynch dealt with in his opinion was whether the NSA program to collect the metadata of Americans’ phone calls complied with the language of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. He concluded that it did not.

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