Supreme Court rejects challenge to NSA program over Verizon phone records

U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday announced it would not hear an unusual legal challenge related to the NSA’s ongoing collection of phone records under a controversial program disclosed this summer by leaker Edward Snowden.

The case was brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which argued that America’s secret spy court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, exceeded its authority when it granted the NSA permission to force Verizon to disclose all of its data records “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”

The Supreme Court did not include reasons for rejecting the petition, but the refusal is likely rooted in EPIC’s unusual legal tactic of attempting to hop-scotch directly to the high court rather than proceed up the ladder through the federal court system. EPIC had argued the case was of such pressing importance that it called for the Supreme Court to step in immediately.

There are other legal challenges ongoing in lower courts in which citizens are challenging the controversial surveillance practices disclosed by Snowden; these include sweeping up meta-data from phone and internet companies so that intelligence agencies can look for suspicious patterns.

Meanwhile, big technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, continue to fight the government in the secret FISA spy court for the right to disclose more data about the surveillance requests they receive.

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