Reauthorization of the NSA telephony metadata program in February 2015

On February 26, 2015, the FISC issued an Order renewing the telephony metadata program for another 90 days until June 1, 2015. In the Order, Judge James E. Boasberg acknowledged the pending challenges before federal appellate courts in ACLU v. Clapper, Klayman v. Obama, and Smith v. Obama (see our post, “Challenges in Federal District and Circuit Courts to the Telephony Metadata Program before the Enactment of the USA Freedom Act”). In the event that an opinion issued in any of the cases, the government was directed “to inform the [FISC] promptly if the government’s implementation of this Order has changed as a result of such opinion(s).” Order at 4.

In addition, Judge Boasberg directed the government to file an application by May 22 if it wished to renew the telephony metadata program beyond June 1, 2015, the date on which purported legal authority for the telephony metadata program, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, 50 U.S.C. Sec. 1861, was scheduled to expire.

On June 2, 2015, the Senate passed and President Obama signed into law the USA Freedom Act, which the House of Representatives had previously passed on May 13, 2015. The Act’s amendments to Section 215 and subsequent litigation before the FISC and other federal courts in regard to the renewal of the telephony metadata program will be discussed in other posts.

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