Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that the controversial NSA spy program which collects phone records is actually illegal. This is one of the spy programs that Edward Snowden helped to expose with his series of leaks in 2013.
Up until now, the NSA and the US government have maintained that their program was legal under the Patriot Act. However, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled this Thursday that the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to indiscriminately tap the phone of every American.
Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote in the ruling that:
“Such expansive development of government repositories of formerly private records would be an unprecedented contraction of the privacy expectations of all Americans.
We would expect such a momentous decision to be preceded by substantial debate, and expressed in unmistakable language.
There is no evidence of such a debate.”
While the ruling is certainly monumental, it puts no clear deadline on congress to cancel the program, but instead is allowing them to decide on their own how they want to respond to the ruling, for the sake of “national security.”
Sadly, this ruling will likely result in a minor reform to the NSA spying program, where some small changes will be made to give the illusion that they are actually making an effort.
Although, this ruling may have positive implications for Edward Snowden, who is responsible for this information coming to light. Snowden currently lives as a fugitive from the US government and many politicians have been attempting to label him as a traitor. Now that it has been proven in court that he exposed criminality, it may become easier for him to be protected as a whistleblower.