Challenge to Verizon Order Denied


On November 18, the Supreme Court denied a petition for the review of a case in which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency its data records for telephone calls and Internet exchanges. The filing questioned if the FISC exceeded its authority under the Patriot Act to grant foreign intelligence surveillance when the order was handed to Verizon.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group, filed the petition with the Supreme Court directly. The intention of the petition was to remove the FISC’s order and to block similar orders from being made in the future or at least make the Supreme Court review the order.

Global controversy and debates have been sparked after the NSA’s surveillance programs were exposed earlier this year. The FISC released an opinion in September about why a program that keeps Americans’ phone records is constitutional. During the same month, the American Civil Liberties Union pressed the Obama administration to place restrictions on the surveillance powers that the FBI holds. A criminal investigation has also been called for by lawmakers into the activities of the whistleblower, ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The decision to deny the challenge to the FISC’s order means that it will take months or even years before the Supreme Court will review the controversial NSA surveillance program. Giving the decision, Justice Samuel Alito said that the theory of imminent injury is too hypothetical.

Meanwhile, NSA supporters in Congress are butting heads with agency critics about what should be done with the phone call records collection program. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate intelligence chair, led a bill through her committee with the aim to reorganize the powers that the agency has. However, Patrick Leahy, the Senate judiciary chair, wants the program to end altogether.


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