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Privacy group blocks NSA from destroying phone records, calls them evidence

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
March 11, 2014
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A US judge has temporarily stopped the National Security Agency (NSA) from destroying phone metadata it collected, thanks to an intervention by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The privacy watchdog argued that the documents were key to upcoming lawsuits against the spy agency stemming from Edward Snowden's revelations. Ironically, the NSA itself wants to preserve the records for intelligence purposes, but a foreign surveillance court ordered them destroyed. The reason? It judged the records would actually violate the rights of those in the phone lists. However, the EFF claimed that court wasn't aware of an existing order issued in July to keep the documents and another filed back in 2008. A hearing is now scheduled for March 19th to determine if the metadata will be permanently destroyed or not -- with your privacy as the main argument either way.

Update: At the hearing, the same judge ruled to keep the block in place on the basis that phone records were relevant to a pending lawsuit, the AP reports. Showing some cunning, the EFF lawyer said there was no objection to the data being destroyed, so long as the government admitted it'd collected records on the plaintiffs involved. Predictably, the lawyer on the other side didn't bite, claiming such "information should remain secret."

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