Judge rules against NSA's phone data collection, to limited effect

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Judge rules against NSA's phone data collection, to limited effect

Privacy advocates just secured a victory against the National Security Agency's bulk phone data surveillance... albeit a limited one. A federal judge has ordered the NSA to stop collecting the phone records of people represented by Freedom Watch founder Larry Klayman. The US government is trampling on constitutional rights in the name of security, according to the ruling. The judge has refused to stay the order, too, so the NSA can't keep snooping while it appeals the case. There's a possibility that the government will have to pay damages, but that will hinge on a future trial.

Don't be too quick to celebrate. The ruling only covers those people immediately affected by the case, so this doesn't represent a full-scale shutdown. Moreover, the existing phone data program is being replaced with a more targeted effort on November 29th. Even if this was an all-encompassing ruling, it'll be rendered moot in a few weeks. Still, this is a symbolic win -- and it may have repercussions for American intelligence agencies collecting information about residents without a warrant.

[Image credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images]

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