US appeals court: NSA phone record collection is excessive

NSA Surveillance
FILE - In this June 6, 2013 file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. House leaders have reached a bipartisan compromise on a bill that would end the National Security Agency's controversial collection of American phone records, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the latest version of a bill known as the USA Freedom Act by a bipartisan vote of 25 to 2. The measure seeks to codify President Barack Obama's proposal to end the NSA's collection of domestic calling records. It would allow the agency to request certain records held by the telephone companies under a court order in terrorism investigations. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the government exceeds what Congress has allowed.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its decision Thursday.

In it, a three-judge panel said the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union illustrated the complexity of balancing privacy interests with the nation’s security.

A lower court judge had thrown out the case. The appeals court said the lower court had erred in ruling that the phone records collection program was legal.

However, the 2nd Circuit declined to block the program, saying it is now up to Congress to decide whether and under what conditions it should continue.

It said a debate in Congress could profoundly alter the legal landscape.

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