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Metadata is still fair game in the US

A recent case gave hope to those who wanted the n=all collection of telephone transaction-generated data to cease. But only court that can overrule Smith v Maryland is the Supreme Court. Now a FISA court has explicitly declined to follow Judge Leon. So n=all continues.

A telephone company asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in January to stop requiring it to give records of its customers’ calls to the National Security Agency, in light of a ruling by a Federal District Court judge that the N.S.A. program is likely unconstitutional, according to court papers declassified on Friday.

But Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, another Federal District Court judge who also sits on the secret surveillance court, rejected the request — and her colleague’s legal analysis — in a 31-page ruling on March 20, the newly declassified papers show. The identity of the phone company was censored in the documents that were made public.

The developments heighten the display of legal tensions over the program. Since 2006, a series of judges on the secret surveillance court have repeatedly ordered companies to participate in the program, but none of them produced a judicial opinion explaining why it was legally justified until after it became public in the leaks by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.

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