On Friday, an appeals court overturned a U.S. District Court decision last May that had declared that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was beyond the authorization of the law. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit kicked the matter back to the lower court for additional deliberation.
The decision did not declare the NSA’s program, which was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, to have been legal or constitutional. Rather, it focused on a technicality: a majority opinion that the plaintiffs in the case could not actually prove that the metadata program swept up their own phone records. Therefore, the plaintiffs, the court declared, did not have standing to sue.