Invasion of Privacy

On Friday, a U.S. appeals court nullified a judge's decision to block the National Security Agency's collection of cellphone metadata through its controversial program that snoops on American citizens. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., said that the preliminary injunction that was previously implemented by the judge was not legally appropriate. The law that supports the metadata collection expired last June, but Congress has since amended it.

Decision Was Not Unanimous

The three-judge panel that decided the matter sent the case back to the lower court and Judge Richard Leon to be subjected to further legal proceedings. It should be noted that, according to sources, the U.S. Court of Appeals panel was not unanimous on this decision. One panel member, Judge David Sentelle, issued a partial dissent. He said that if the decision were up to him he would dismiss the challenge and not simply send it back to the lower court for re-consideration.

Under the newly amended U.S.A. Freedom Act, the metadata collection program will continue for 180 days from the amendment's enactment. After the six month period had passed, a new version of the metadata collection program will be used.

The controversy over the United States government snooping on its citizenry exploded in June 2013, when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden released information about the government's secret policy of spying on U.S. phone records. According to Snowden's disclosures, a U.S. surveillance court secretly approved millions of daily phone records relating to telephone numbers that were dialed and how long the phone calls lasted.

The data collection policy was challenged in court by two plaintiffs: Charles Strange and Larry Klayman. In December 2013, they won their U.S. District Court case after Judge Leon decided that the program was unlawful. However, the government appealed the ruling.

What Do You Think?

Is the U.S. government's policy of snooping on its citizen's telephone records a violation of civil rights? Should the alleged "spying" be stopped, or is it necessary to help prevent future terrorist attacks on United States soil?