A federal appeals court has ruled that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) mass surveillance program that collected data on billions of Americans’ telephone calls was illegal and possibly unconstitutional. The program was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The court also downplayed the role the bulk phone data collection program played in the 2013 prosecution of four men accused of fund-raising for terror group Al-Shabaab. More specifically, the court declared that the role of the program in the case was “so minor that it did not undermine their convictions.”
The court turned down the Justice Department’s defense that NSA phone data collection did not constitute a search because customers voluntarily share this information with service providers.
This latest court ruling comes almost a month after it emerged that the US government is tapping into mobile phone data in an altogether different way. The Wall Street Journal reported that hundreds of mobile apps contain secret tracking software inserted into these apps by a government contractor.
It’s believed that the contractor, Anomaly Six LLC, inserted this secret tracking software into over 500 mobile apps. Furthermore, the data obtained by this software is said to be anonymized. But as we’ve learned before, it’s not hard to tie anonymized data to a specific user.