The Snowden Effect: Judge Rules NSA Phone Records Likely Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON (WJZ)—A federal judge makes a decision on the National Security Agency’s controversial phone surveillance program. This is just the latest development since former Maryland resident and NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified material.

Kai Jackson has more on what this means for your privacy.

A federal judge says a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s mass collection of phone records can proceed and would likely be successful.

The U.S. District Court judge issued a 68-page opinion, saying the data collection violates the constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the program and responded to the ruling with a statement that said in part:

“I acted on my belief that the NSA’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge.”

The judge put his decision on hold anticipating a government appeal.

The head of the NSA, General Keith B. Alexander, told 60 Minutes the data collection keeps Americans safe, and it’s limited.

John Miller: “You don’t hear the call?”

Gen. Keith Alexander: “You don’t hear the call.”

Miller: “You don’t see the name?”

Alexander: “You don’t see the names.”

Miller: “You just see this number, called that number?”

Alexander: “The– this number– the ‘to/from’ number, the duration of the call and date/time, that’s all you get.”

The White House is also now examining an outside review of NSA activities. The report includes 40 recommendations to help the agency maintain public trust and reduce the risk of unauthorized disclosure of classified material.

Whistle blower William Binney helped developed a NSA spying program to stop terrorists.

But Binney believes it went too far and violated the constitutional rights of Americans.

“The data that was being taken in was all about the United States citizens,” Binney said. “They’re destroying our democracy is what they’re doing.

A Justice Department spokesperson said they are studying Monday’s opinion and believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found.

NSA leaker Snowden is now living in Russia under political asylum.

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