Court gives the NSA permission to continue phone metadata collection for now

court rules nsa resume phone metadata collection building headquarters
Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. NSA
In a decision that is sure to irk privacy advocates, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the National Security Agency (NSA) can temporarily resume its once-secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata, reports the New York Times. However, after 180 days, the NSA will still have to end the practice as per the Freedom Act.

The NSA’s phone data collection program originally ended on June 1, when Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act expired. President Barack Obama then signed the Freedom Act, which shifted phone data collection from the NSA’s hands to phone companies’, two days later. His administration also applied to restart the program for six months after the bill was signed to give the agency time to transition the program.

The Freedom Act amended Section 215 to require the government to define a “specific selection term,” such as a phone number, to access the phone companies’ records. The law also forbids the collection of “all call detail records” held by phone companies.

All of this was done in response to a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which stated that Section 215 could not be interpreted as allowing any kind of bulk collection. However, the Freedom Act did not include any language to address the ruling, so it remained unclear whether the data collection was legal or not.

Then, in late June, Judge Michael W. Mosman stated that the program could resume for the remaining 180 days granted by the Freedom Act and argued that the Second Circuit was wrong in saying that the program was not authorized to collect that data.

“Second Circuit rulings are not binding on the FISC and this court respectfully disagrees with that court’s analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act,” wrote Judge Mosman in his 26-page decision.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated that it will ask the Second Circuit Court — which initially ruled against the NSA program — to issue a temporary injunction to prevent the resumption of the program. Of course, even if the NSA is forced to stop metadata collection, that doesn’t mean all of its programs will be gone for good.

Even the Freedom Act, which Senator Ron Wyden (D-Or.) hailed as “the most significant victory for Americans’ privacy rights in more than a decade,” still includes questionable provisions, such as the “roving wiretap” and “lone wolf.” These provisions allow local and federal law enforcement to track and tap an individual’s activities and devices, even if there aren’t proven links between the user and any known terrorist organizations.

Photography

The 2019 class of camera phones is great, and we tested them to find the best

It's the middle of the year, which means it's time for a mid-year camera shootout to find the best among our top phones of 2019. We pit six phones against each other, including the OnePlus 7 Pro, Pixel 3a, and Galaxy S10 Plus.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 1 flagship will be available to pre-order starting June 28

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Mobile

Hackers conduct prolonged cyberattack against phone network, says security firm

A security company says a prolonged cyberattack against global phone networks, where hackers have apparently collected data related to phone conversations and even the physical location of the device, has taken place.
Mobile

FedEx mistakenly rejects shipment of a Huawei phone to the U.S.

There has been confusion about what exactly the placement of Huawei on the U.S. Entity List means for private customers. Recently a tech writer who tried to ship a Huawei phone to the U.S. was surprised when the phone was returned to him.
Mobile

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 has smart card-equivalent security certification

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is Qualcomm's flagship processor for the year, and it's available in a range of smartphones. Now, the chip is certified with a smart card equivalent security rating.
Deals

Best smartphone deals for June 2019: iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, and LG

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $900.
Mobile

Oppo’s exciting new tech hides the selfie camera under the phone screen

Oppo has revealed impressive new technology where it can hide the selfie camera on a smartphone beneath the display itself, taking its devices another step closer to providing an unspoiled and completely immersive viewing experience.
Mobile

Vivo’s new charging tech rockets phone your battery to full in only 13 minutes

Vivo has made another leap forward in battery charging technology with the introduction of Super FlashCharge 120w, which is capable of sending enough power through to your phone’s battery cell to recharge it in only 13 minutes.
Wearables

Xiaomi’s Mi Smart Band 4 is a desirable, cheap fitness band/smartwatch mash-up

Xiaomi has announced the availability of the Mi Smart Band 4 in the U.K., which despite a low price, manages to squeeze in a massive amount of functionality, bridging the gap between fitness band and smartwatch.
Mobile

The Nokia 1 gets Android P, providing a Pie-flavored option for every budget

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

The best travel power adapters for international jet-setters

We recently tried out several of the best travel adapters on our journeys around the globe, and these are our favorite models so far. If you want to keep your gadgets juiced on the go, then snag one of these.
Mobile

Visible is removing its 5Mbps data speed limiter (for a limited time)

Visible, the Verizon-owned carrier aimed at offering a no-frills approach to the modern carrier experience, has announced that for a limited time it's removing the 5Mbps data speed cap.
Deals

Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Air with Wi-Fi is on sale now at Walmart

Now that Summer is here, it's the perfect time to catch up on summer reading, play video games, and relax. Walmart is having a great deal on Apple's 10.5-inch iPad Air with Wi-Fi that will save you $30.
Home Theater

YouTube now gives you more control over the videos it picks for you

If you've ever wished for greater control over the videos that YouTube suggests, it's your lucky day: The company is bringing new features that let you see more of what you like and less of the stuff that bugs you.