Federal court rules NSA bulk collection of phone records is excessive

22News explains what this recent court decision could mean for your privacy

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP/AP) – A federal court has ruled the government program that collects american’s phone records in bulk, is illegal.

The National Security Agency collects and stores millions of phone records, and while the government claims it’s for counter-terrorism, opponents say it is an intrusion of privacy.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the bulk collection of American phone records by the government exceeded what Congress has allowed.  “In general I’ve been surprised in the past to find out how much data the NSA was collecting and it seemed to me like definitely an infringement on personal liberty that didn’t have any really good reason behind it,” Patrick Grafton-Cardwell, of Northampton said.

The American Civil Liberties Union appealed the case after a lower court had thrown it out, but this won’t stop the National Security Agency from collecting data. The Patriot Act- which allows the government to collect certain records including from your cell phone from telephone companies, was first written in 2001. There have been some changes since then, but it will expire June 1st if Congress doesn’t reauthorize it.
Now Congress must decide how to balance security and privacy in the U.S., but there’s also a concern about data collection by different companies. Catherine Elliott, of Northampton said, “Apps like Snapchat actually store all of the images they take and the data, everything they have it on record. And they red flag things, so I’m kind of dubious about whether its just the government that’s overstepping their bounds.”
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden released information about the NSA bulk collection program in 2013.
The U.S. House approved a bill to end the bulk collection of data, and a similar proposal is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

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