Surveillance Court Upholds Phone Data Collection

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has released an opinion upholding the constitutionality of the phone data collection program by the National Security Agency. Dated Aug. 29, the opinion said metadata that includes phone numbers, time and duration of calls is not protected by the Fourth Amendment, since the content of the calls is not accessed. The opinion cited the 1979 U.S. Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland, in which the court ruled against a crime suspect challenging the use of a pen register to capture information about calls made. “Where one individual does not have a Fourth Amendment interest,” said U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan, who wrote the opinion. “Grouping together a large number of similarly situated individuals cannot result in a Fourth Amendment interest springing into existence ex nihilo.” The ABA Journal has the story.