Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asserts authority over phone records

Published late on Friday, the statement hones in on telephony metadata. Translation? Phone records.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Just ahead of the weekend, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has slipped in the news that it is renewing its rights over the collection of certain pieces of data.

Published late on Friday, the statement hones in on telephony metadata.

Translation? The court is renewing its grip and ability to collect phone records.

See also: Verizon's secret data order timed to expire, but NSA spying likely to carry on

Here is a copy of the statement in full:

As indicated by a previously classified court order disclosed by the media on June 5, 2013, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorization requiring the production of certain telephony metadata under the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. Section 1861, expires on July 19, 2013.

On June 6, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, the DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority.

The Administration is undertaking a careful and thorough review of whether and to what extent additional information or documents pertaining to this program may be declassified, consistent with the protection of national security.

The federal court made waves recently when it handed a small victory to Yahoo earlier this week.

To recall, in an effort to clean up its image and speculated involvement in the NSA data mining scandal, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company petitioned the special court in Washington, D.C. to declassify documents from a specific classified case in 2008.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Yahoo argued those files would reveal that the technology company "objected strenuously" to federal demands for consumer data, thus demonstrating its interest in defending user privacy above all else.

On Monday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court returned with a directive in Yahoo's favor.

Nevertheless, given the fervor of the public debate in this country over the right to privacy and data records, this latest renewal from the FISC is likely going to ruffle some feathers beyond the weekend.

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