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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs