Which are the legal aspects of the NSA’s surveillance program?
Posted On June 18, 2021
The government’s sweeping collection of phone records, emails, text messages, and other communications data has been the subject of a legal battle in Washington, D.C., for years.
Now, the government is preparing to start the process of collecting the data itself.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a lower court ruling that the government has no right to collect phone records.
The lawsuit asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rule on the constitutionality of the program, which President Donald Trump has described as “a legal minefield.”
The DOJ said in the lawsuit that the court should consider the constitutional right to privacy as well as the Fourth Amendment.
“Congress expressly gave Congress the authority to regulate communications in the public interest,” the DOJ wrote in the suit.
“The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Congress can regulate the use of private communications in a manner that serves the public.”
The NSA said the government must show that it is in a position to obtain the data in a meaningful way.
The suit asks the judge to reject the government’s arguments and hold the court to the Constitution.
The government has been trying to get the phone records program to be ruled unconstitutional since 2011, when a federal appeals court struck down the constitutionally required phone records collection program.
But the court also found that the NSA has broad authority to collect the phone data and the program violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
The NSA has been collecting the records since 2013, but the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the 2011 ruling, which ruled that the phone metadata program violated the Fourth, Fourth Amendment, and the Fifth Amendments because it targeted people who have committed no crime.