23:29 GMT02 June 2020
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    The US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) defied the will of Congress and disregarded federal legal precedent on Monday by allowing the National Security Agency (NSA) to resume collecting phone records in bulk, experts told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The FISC ruled that the NSA had legal authority to resume bulk collection of all US citizens’ phone records for the next five months, local media reported, thereby striking down a federal Second Circuit of Appeals decision in May 2015, which argued that the NSA was never authorized to conduct such surveillance.

    "[T]he FISC opinion effectively allows the agency [NSA] to restart a program that flies in the face of Congress’ intent,” Indiana University Professor of Law Fred Cate told Sputnik.

    The USA Freedom Act of 2015 ended the US government’s mass surveillance program though it allowed the NSA to collect data for a 6-month period after the law‘s June 2, 2015 effective date.

    The FISC court ruling was legally correct, Cate argued, given the Freedom Act’s six-month wind-down period, but the fact the US government sought the decision contradicts the White House’s commitment to end bulk surveillance.

    University of Houston Assistant Professor of Law Emily Berman told Sputnik that Congress’ legislative determination coupled with the appeals court decision should have given the FISC court pause.

    “I do think it’s problematic that it [FISC] fails to heed the Second Circuit’s determination that the bulk collection program was never statutorily authorized,” Berman argued.

    On Tuesday, US Senator Roy Wyden accused the White House of violating the rights of all Americans by approving the revival of bulk phone record surveillance for five extra months.

    On Monday, WikiLeaks published secret documents that exposed an NSA intelligence operation that was carried out against the French government and all of the country’s major companies.

    In 2013, US intelligence services came under increased scrutiny for their mass surveillance program after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked classified documents which revealed the scope of US global spying programs.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    data collection, mass surveillance, The US Freedom Act, National Security Agency (NSA), US Congress, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), United States
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