News / USA

Analyst: Court Ruling Will Not Radically Impact US Surveillance

Analyst: Court Ruling Will Not Have Radical Effect on US Surveillancei
X
December 18, 2013 1:57 PM
The U.S. security surveillance program is in the headlines again, after a U.S. court ruled that secret collecting of telephone records from citizens likely violates the constitution. Some experts say the ruling, which is not final, may not lead to radical change in the controversial practice.
Zlatica Hoke
The U.S. security surveillance program and a former government contractor who leaked details about it are in the headlines again, after a U.S. court ruled that secret collecting of telephone records from American citizens likely violates the U.S. constitution.  Some experts say the ruling, which is not final, may not lead to a radical change in the controversial practice. 

Although the government is expected to appeal the court's ruling, many Americans welcomed it, among them fugitive national security contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed the practice earlier this year after allegedly stealing 1.7 million documents from the National Security Agency.  In a message from Russia,  which gave him temporary asylum, Snowden said the ruling by a U.S. district judge justifies his disclosures.

Law professor Stephen Vladack at American University in Washington said the ruling will not make much difference in the short term.

"It actually means very little in the short term, because Judge Leon stayed the decision, which means it will have no immediate effect.  And so the government will be able to do tomorrow what it was able to do before Judge [Richard] Leon’s decision," he said.

But Vladack said the decision has symbolic significance because it is the first time that a U.S. federal judge has ruled that the NSA is not only exceeding its authority, but also is violating the constitution when it secretly collects phone records on a massive scale.  He says several court cases have resulted from Snowden's leaks, and so the issue eventually could reach the Supreme Court.

"The Snowden disclosures really were primarily focused on two different programs. The first is the meta-data program when the government was collecting phone records. The second - and perhaps the more significant internationally - is the Prism program where the government is collecting direct content of Internet communications directly from servers outside the United States," stated Vladack.

Vladack said only Congress could curb litigation on the controversial program by deciding whether to provide stronger legal footing for the phone records surveillance or restrict it before the courts do.  So far, lawmakers have been largely unconcerned about the collection of data abroad, but Vladack said Snowden's disclosures may change that.

President Barack Obama has defended the program when confronted by foreign leaders. "We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information," he said.

Obama Tuesday sought to allay concerns about the U.S. surveillance program in a meeting at the White House with leaders of top technology companies. It was not clear if the court's ruling was brought up during the meeting.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid