The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled for NSA phone data collection to continue.

Bulk phone data collection under the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program should continue until the end of the congressionally-mandated transition period to a new protocol, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on Thursday.

“We conclude that Congress intended to authorize the continuation of the bulk telephone metadata collection program for a limited period of 180 days, and decline to reach the constitutional issues for prudential reasons,” the Court stated. “We therefore deny the motion for a preliminary injunction.”

US rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had initiated the case asking the Court to immediately ban NSA’s phone metadata collection.

Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which allowed the NSA to intercept, collect and store US citizens’ phone records, expired on June 1. It was first signed into law by President George Bush in 2001 in the wake of September 11 terrorist attacks.

The provisions have since been replaced by the USA Freedom Act that limits, but not entirely bars, US intelligence agencies from bulk data collection. The authorities approved a 180-day transition period between the programs.

In 2013, an illegal mass surveillance program by US government came under scrutiny after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden posted classified documents online revealing the all-encompassing extent of US spying practices.

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