Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

A federal appeals court recently ruled that a former National Security Agency (NSA) program that collected telephone metadata on millions of Americans over the course of a decade was both ineffective and likely unconstitutional.

The decision came in a terrorism case against four Somalis convicted of sending money to support a terror group in their former home country. Their conviction was upheld – based on evidence gathered through an old fashioned wire-tap.

But they also challenged the metadata collection. And that’s’ where the court found the now-canceled program was probably illegal all along:

The court’s three-judge panel unanimously “held that the metadata collection exceeded the scope of Congress’s authorization in 50 U.S.C. § 1861, which required the government to make a showing of relevance to a particular authorized investigation before collecting the records, and that the program therefore violated that section of FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act],” the ruling said.

The judges also wrote that “the government may have violated the Fourth Amendment when it collected the telephony metadata of millions of Americans, including at least one of the defendants.”

The court also touched on the wider privacy violations of millions of Americans:

…the 9th Circuit judges said that “telephony metadata, ‘as applied to individual telephone subscribers, particularly with relation to mobile phone services and when collected on an ongoing basis with respect to all of an individual’s calls… permit something akin to… 24-hour surveillance.’ This long-term surveillance, made possible by new technology, upends conventional expectations of privacy.”