Well, the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, has filed a suit against the NSA regarding its snooping activities. This is not the only legal case against the NSA. Well, interestingly enough, the most recent court decision regarding NSA activities has opened the door for confusion in lower federal courts regarding the legality of NSA’s actions specially when it concerns the privacy of citizens. According to the latest ruling in a New York based US District Court, presided over by Judge William Pauley III, the NSA’s spying is based on metadata. In other words, it’s information from a five thousand feet perspective. There are two ways to look at something that’s happening on the ground, up close and personal or from 5000 feet up. Metadata is supposed to be information from 5000 feet up. It’s like massive report of all the phonecalls in one particular time frame. Since there is really no personally identifying information for metadata, at least as presented by the government, Judge Pauley says that this NSA intrusion is not a violation of the US Constitution’s fourth and first amendment. It doesn’t constitute an illegal search without a warrant nor is it an infringement in people’s freedom of association or freedom of expression. Interestingly enough, in the decision, Judge Pauley keep repeating certain key phrases that kind of clues anybody in as to where the decision will go. He keeps mentioning 9/11, the possibility of terrorist threats, and of course, Edward Snowden.
Be that as it may, Judge Pauley’s decision is not the final word on this matter. As we’ve mentioned earlier, Judge Pauley’s decision actually created confusion among federal courts because earlier in the Washington DC circuit a judge, their rule that the NSA activities probably violates the fourth amendment and the first amendment. So its anybody’s guess when the US Supreme Court will step in. Usually when lower courts are in disagreement and there’s a lack of official guideline, the US Supreme Court steps in. Also, this may be long and protracted struggle because the losers at the lower levels may want to appeal it to the next level up which is the Court of Appeals in their proper jurisdictions. Doing so, will addd a few more years to the answer that we’ve been looking for. The answer that we’ve been looking for is very straight forward, is what the NSA doing legal? So, let’s hope that the US Supreme Court doesn’t wait for it to take that long. Unfortunately, from my understanding you cannot petition the Supreme Court for certiorari unless you have gone through the lower appeals process. So we’ve cleared the district level, the next step is the Court of Appeals for the particular districts. If their decisions were issued in and then the next step,finally hopefully soon, is the US Supreme Court.