Home Homeland Security US Court Rules that NSA Mass Surveillance Was Illegal
US Court Rules that NSA Mass Surveillance Was Illegal

US Court Rules that NSA Mass Surveillance Was Illegal

0

Note: This article first appeared at InCyberDefense.

By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor of In MilitaryInCyberDefense and In Space News.

Edward Snowden’s name is synonymous with “hero” to some and “traitor” to others, depending on which side of the political aisle you find yourself.

In May 2013, Snowden released to two journalists an enormous number of classified documents related to government mass surveillance programs. Among the Snowden revelations, which are now in the public domain, were a number of very disturbing details regarding the global surveillance apparatus run by the National Security Agency.

Start a Homeland Security degree at American Military University.

For instance, the PRISM program, the first to be revealed, allows the NSA direct access to Americans’ Google and Yahoo accounts. Reports also revealed details about an NSA call database called Boundless Informant and a secret court order requiring Verizon to hand the NSA millions of Americans’ phone records daily.

XKeyscore, an analytical tool that allows for collection of “almost anything done on the internet,” was described by The Guardian as a program that “shed light” on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements: “I, sitting at my desk, [could] wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.”

NSA’s Programs of Mass Surveillance Have Been Ruled Unconstitutional

Now, seven years after Snowden exposed the NSA’s mass surveillance, an appeals court has found the program “to be unlawful – and that the US intelligence leaders who publicly defended it were not telling the truth.”

The ruling, handed down by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, said “the warrantless telephone dragnet that secretly collected millions of Americans’ telephone records violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and may well have been unconstitutional.”

This ruling comes only weeks after President Trump floated the idea of pardoning Snowden, who remains in exile in Russia. In the past, Snowden has stated that he wishes to return to the United States and would do so if he could be guaranteed a fair trial, something not likely under the crimes for which he is charged; specifically theft and violations of the Espionage Act. Under the Espionage Act, no prosecution of a non-spy can be fair or just. The 1917 law, enacted shortly after the U.S. entered World War I, was intended to apply to spies, not modern-day whistleblowers accused of mishandling allegedly classified information.

Despite previously calling him a traitor deserving of execution, President Trump said last month that he is “going to take a very good look” at the possibility of pardoning Snowden.

It appears that Trump’s recent talk of pardoning Snowden, along with the court ruling, have put NSA surveillance at the front of American political discourse once again.

Comments

comments

Online Degrees & Certificates In Cybersecurity

American Military University's online cybersecurity programs integrate multiple disciplines to ensure you gain the critical skills and management practices needed to effectively lead cybersecurity missions – from government or private industry. Learn from the leader. American Military University is part of American Public University System, which has been designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.