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A US federal appeals court ruled yesterday that government snooping into private telephone records exceeded congressional authorisation.
The case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, had previously been dismissed by a lower court.
But the second circuit appeals court said that the judge in the first case was wrong to rule that the National Security Agency’s collection of millions of innocent citizens’ phone records was legal.
However, the court declined to block the program, saying it was now up to Congress to decide if it should continue.
It said a debate in Congress could profoundly alter the legal landscape.
The US Congress authorised the NSA to collect such data on terrorist suspects following the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Virginia.
But in 2013 NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that showed that the powers were being abused to spy on millions of non-suspect US citizens.
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