U.S. appeals 'unconstitutional' ruling on NSA metadata programs

Summary:One court said the NSA's data collection programs were a "vital tool" to protect Americans. But another court said such programs was "likely" unconstitutional. Guess which one the U.S. Justice Dept. wants to challenge.

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Image: National Security Agency

The U.S. courts can't seem to agree on whether the U.S. government's mass surveillance efforts are in breach of the law or not.

One thing's for certain: the White House didn't approve of the recent ruling that saw one federal judge rule that the U.S. National Security Agency's data collection programs were "likely" in breach of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

First reported by the Reuters news agency, the U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal on Friday in efforts to overturn a ruling that said the government's gathering of U.S. phone records and metadata may have been unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in December  called the bulk collection of data  an "indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion" of Americans' privacy.

But to add to the already messy legal quagmire, in a separate case another judge fell in favor of the NSA's data collection program. U.S. District Judge William Pauley said the government's efforts to vacuum up every shred of data it can was a "vital tool" and fell within the confines of U.S. law.   

The chances are at some point the Supreme Court will have to get involved, which could throw up some serious headaches to the U.S. government's mass surveillance efforts if the top U.S. court rules against it.

Topics: Security

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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