Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 16th Dec 2013 23:15 UTC

A federal judge in Washington ruled on Monday that the bulk collection of Americans' telephone records by the National Security Agency is likely to violate the US constitution, in the most significant legal setback for the agency since the first disclosures prompted by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Judge Richard Leon declared that the mass collection of metadata probably violates the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and was "almost Orwellian" in its scope. In a judgment replete with literary swipes against the NSA, he said James Madison, the architect of the US constitution, would be "aghast" at the scope of the agency’s collection of Americans' communications data.

It's just a preliminary ruling, and while the judge stated that he would most likely uphold the preliminary ruling after the merits of the case have been handled, there's probably thousands of appeals and stuff like that where this could crumble into dust.

Once a government has obtained a power, it rarely releases it. That's the nature of government - it can only grow.

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by M.Onty on Tue 17th Dec 2013 12:06 UTC
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We, our governments, our courts, are all capable of asserting that our spooks can't spy on their own citizens. Who knows, it may even happen.

But here is the knotty bit: We can't stop them from spying on foreigners because, well, that is the purpose of espionage. Everyone does it & always will. So if the USA & the UK form a intelligence sharing partnership, we've both just outsourced domestic spying to our partners, which is worse than our own spooks doing it to us.

In other words, for any ruling to work, it'll have to be transatlantic in effect. I can't see that happening any time soon.

Edited 2013-12-17 12:06 UTC

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