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American Civil Liberties Union v. Clapper

959 F. Supp. 2d 724 (2013)

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American Civil Liberties Union v. Clapper

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

959 F. Supp. 2d 724 (2013)

Facts

In 2006, the National Security Agency (NSA) began collecting bulk telephone metadata from telephone service providers for every phone call originating in the United States. Bulk telephone metadata includes the telephone numbers that placed and received the call and the date, time, and length of the call, but not the content of the call or the callers’ names or addresses. The NSA’s use of the metadata was governed by an internal policy limiting the circumstances under which the metadata could be queried as well as the scope of any query. Under the policy, if a reasonable, articulable suspicion existed that a phone number—called a “seed”—was associated with a foreign terrorist organization that was the subject of an investigation, then the metadata database could be queried using the seed. The results of a query included the telephone numbers that had been in contact with the seed and the dates, times, and durations of the calls, but not the names of those associated with the telephone numbers. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (plaintiff) filed suit, seeking to enjoin the NSA from collecting bulk telephone metadata and claiming that the NSA’s collection program violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pauley, J.)

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