It’s been a while since we’ve had a ruling on the legality of the NSA’s call records programme from a US federal court. Back in December 2013, judges in two federal courts gave conflicting verdicts on whether the domestic collection that was the subject of the very first Snowden revelation was constitutional.
Now a three-strong panel of judges in New York has ruled that Section 215 of the Patriot Act does not provide the authority for the bulk collection of domestic phone records. Because the appeal court ruling is made on the basis of statute, it doesn’t tackle the question of whether the NSA has been acting unconstitutionally. That issue is still being litigated on a number of bases.
The ruling, and a concurring opinion from Judge Sack that likens the significance of Edward Snowden’s actions to those of Daniel Ellsberg, follow below.