Courts split over NSA phone records: new ruling says spy program is legal

Gigaom

A federal judge in New York has rejected an ACLU challenge to a controversial NSA program to collect phone records, ruling on Friday that the program does not violate the Constitution. The decision comes two weeks after the judge’s counterpart in Washington, DC, came to the opposite conclusion and described the program as “Orwellian” and a probable violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.

The split in rulings increases the likelihood that the NSA surveillance program could land before the Supreme Court next year, and provides more fodder to a debate over what the government can do with so-called “telephony metadata” — a massive database of every phone call in the company that the NSA has compiled from carriers like Verizon(s vz).

The “metadata” in question represents million of phone numbers (rather than names) but the government is able to drill down to specific identities when it makes a “query”…

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