A U.S. secret surveillance court has ruled that the massive collection of telephone call data by the U.S. government as lawful. The Court concludes that there are facts showing reasonable grounds to believe that the records sought are relevant to authorized investigations,” the opinion was declassified to allay fears of lack of transparency within the secret court.
Tuesday’s disclosure comes three months after the first round of leaks provided to U.K. and U.S. newspapers by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which detailed the U.S. government’s mass surveillance operations in conjunction with other nations.
The first document released by Snowden was a court order directed at Verizon, which ordered over data details of calls made to and from U.S. customers, including times, caller and destination details.
While the contents of calls are not collected under the specific order, other secret orders are believed to allow such collection.
The three-month order gave the U.S. government agency an endless supply of data for the period. It was subsequently amended when it expired, despite the negative public reaction.