Friday, May 8, 2015

Court To NSA: You Can’t Do That

A federal court has ruled that bulk collection of phone data by the N.S.A. is illegal.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, known as Section 215, cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records.

The provision of the act used to justify the bulk data program is to expire June 1, and the ruling is certain to increase tension that has been building in Congress.

Good.  I’ve never been either that ego-centric or paranoid that I worry if the N.S.A. is listening in on my phone calls or collecting the data from them; lately all they would see is a bunch of calls from “UNKNOWN CALLER” or “PHONE CALL” that call during the day and no one’s there.  It just seems like an incredible waste of time and money to gather all that data with the hope of finding something nefarious.  And if a terrorist is stupid enough to pick up the phone and plot something that tips off the N.S.A. — “Hey, let’s go toss a Molotov cocktail or two” — chances are they’re too dumb to pull off anything other than trip over the cat and blow themselves up.

The USA PATRIOT Act is a dubious piece of legislation passed in the panic-stricken days after September 11, 2001.  No good laws are passed when the ruins are still smoldering.