Compliance Management, Privacy

Court will allow NSA surveillance during 180-day transition to USA Freedom

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday it will not put an end to the National Security Agency's (NSA) controversial surveillance program during a 180-day transition to the USA Freedom Act.

When Congress voted the USA Freedom Act into law in June, it conferred the transition period to ease the move to a targeted surveillance system that will replace the bulk data collection program exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden.

"An abrupt end to the program would be contrary to the public interest in effective surveillance of terrorist threats, and Congress thus provided a 180-day transition period," Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote in the court's decision.

The transition period ends Nov. 29. The court's decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) petitioned the court in the ongoing case of ACLU vs. Clapper to issue an injunction meant to halt the NSA program. Lynch wrote that the ACLU had argued “that the government intends to retain the records ‘indefinitely,' and are under no outside obligation to purge them” but that the government had countered “that the claims will be moot on November 29, because the telephone metadata program will cease at that time, and an order enjoining the telephone metadata program will have no effect.”

In the ruling, the court said it would "Under the circumstances…defer to that [Congress's] reasonable decision" to authorize a 180-day transition.

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