US District Judge Richard J. Leon ordered the National Security Agency or NSA to stop its spying program immediately. He calls he phone data collection by the agency is as unconstitutional, the second federal judge to do so.
District judge Leon of Washington said it is "unparalleled" and "astounding" dragnet surveillance, reported Press TV.
Leon said NSA's controversial phone records collection program violates the Constitution. Civil liberties groups have been seeing the spying program as unconstitutional since 2013 when Edward Snowden first exposed it.
Leon's decision to end NSA's spying program, though a victory to the groups who are against it, only applies to two plaintiffs who filed a suit against NSA, conservative legal activist Larry Klayman and his business.
Klayman's victory is also short-lived, as NASA collection activities will end on Nov. 29.
According to Wired, what makes it significant is for a judge to stop NSA from spying, which could be a precedent for future cases, said David Greene, civil liberties director and senior staff attorney of Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"In effect, it only requires them to stop doing very little of what they do...NSA makes many of the same arguments to justify all of its mass spying programs, it's really significant when a judge rejects them." Greene stated.
Various judges with the Second Circuit Court declared the program as illegal, passed a bill to stop it but gave NSA 180 days to replace it with a new system.
The new system allows telephone companies to keep customer call records instead. The government can only access them through a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and limited to those related to national security investigation.
So far, federal judges are not united with regard to the constitutionality of the NSA data collection program. Three judges see is at the constitutional, while Leon is the sole judge to rule it unconstitutional. The ruling of the Second Circuit Court judges in May did not rule on its constitutionality, but whether the Patriot Act stipulates that the government is authorized to conduct mass spying operation. It did not.
NSA's spying program commenced around May 2006, collecting phone records from customers of US phone companies like Verizon. The millions of records include numbers dialled and received, duration of calls, date and time.
Though Nov. 29 is near when the spying program would stop, Leon asserted the Constitutional violation was so abusive that it should be stopped immediately.