U.S. court allows phone 'metadata' collection for three months more

WASHINGTON Sat Jan 4, 2014 5:27am IST

A protester against the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (not pictured) testify at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files

A protester against the practices of U.S. security agenices sits in the audience as U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Deputy Attorney General James Cole and General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (not pictured) testify at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed/Files

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The secretive U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the authority of U.S. intelligence agencies to collect data on millions of Americans' telephone calls in a program that has set off a legal battle over privacy rights.

The court allowed the intelligence community to collect metadata from phone companies, the Office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a news release.

The release offered almost no details about the ruling, but a U.S. official said the authority was renewed for three months, and that it applied to the entire metadata collection program.

In the past, these orders were sometimes issued to individual telephone companies. But the official said the latest order covered all companies from which metadata had been collected under recent previous court authorizations.

News the National Security Agency can track the telephone calls of Americans by collecting metadata of who they contact and when, was one of the main revelations by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden last year that set off public outcry about government spying.

Two U.S. district judges recently issued conflicting rulings on the legality and constitutionality of bulk metadata collection by the NSA.

On Friday, the Justice Department filed notice it was appealing a ruling in December by Washington-based federal judge Richard Leon that declared bulk metadata collection was probably unlawful. Leon said that he could not imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary" invasion of privacy.

But William Pauley, a federal judge based in Manhattan, issued a ruling last month that found such collection legal.

Clapper's office said that U.S. intelligence agencies were "open to modifications" to the metadata collection program that "would provide additional privacy and civil liberty protections while still maintaining its operational benefits."

The NSA says it only uses the metadata of Americans in limited circumstances and with great care.

A panel of outside experts appointed by President Barack Obama recently questioned whether the results produced by bulk metadata collection outweighed the intrusion into Americans' privacy. It suggested possible changes in the program, but not its cancellation.

Obama is expected to produce his own recommendations for reforms or changes in U.S. electronic surveillance later this month.

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Alistair Bell and Andre Grenon)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Consumer Confidence Index

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Deal Talk

Deal Talk

Exclusive - Lupin, U.S. firms weigh bids for GSK's mature drugs: sources  Full Article 

Classifying Banks

Classifying Banks

RBI to start announcing too-big-to-fail banks in Aug 2015  Full Article 

Corruption Probe

Corruption Probe

India to probe corruption in healthcare after TV sting.  Full Article 

Food Scandal

Food Scandal

Starbucks, Burger King dragged in as China food scandal spreads.  Full Article 

Bigger iPhones

Bigger iPhones

Apple asks suppliers to produce up to 80 mln large-screen iPhones - WSJ.  Full Article 

Bali Trade Deal

Bali Trade Deal

India keeps world guessing in countdown to landmark trade pact deadline.  Full Article 

Bangalore Sex Abuse

Bangalore Sex Abuse

Modi's BJP puts political twist on local sex abuse case   Full Article 

Yahoo to buy Flurry

Yahoo to buy Flurry

Yahoo to buy analytics startup Flurry to bolster mobile ad business.  Full Article 

Wholesale Biz

Wholesale Biz

Wal-Mart adds $102.9 million in Indian wholesale business in June.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage