The nation’s secretive surveillance court should not have reinstated the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone call data even temporarily, because an appellate court ruled that the program was illegal in May, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday. The suit asks the appellate court to overrule the secret court and enjoin the program immediately.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on May 7 that the NSA program that vacuumed up domestic metadata relating to all American phone calls—who was calling who, when, and for how long— was illegal, and that Congress did not intend Section 215 of the Patriot Act to authorize the government to instate such a wide dragnet. Information about every single American’s behavior on their phones is not “relevant to an authorized investigation,” the court concluded.
Congress let the spying program lapse by failing to renew it before its June 1 expiration date. Then, when reform legislation passed the following day, Congress called for the massive spying program to end–but with a grace period.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court then ruled that the bulk surveillance, first revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden two years ago, could be resumed for five months.