NSA's collection of domestic phone 'metadata' likely unconstitutional

Probably violates Fourth Amendment, says federal judge

NSA ruling

It doesn't seem to matter if the National Security Agency is only collecting "metadata" from domestic phone calls, as it's likely unconstitutional ruled a federal judge today.

That's the opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, who said even though the NSA's spying program didn't log phone call content, it still appeared to violate the Fourth Amendment.

"I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this" wrote Leon, as reported by Politico.

He called the program a "systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval."

The George W. Bush-appointed judge also noted that the Justice Department didn't adequately prove that such information prevented terrorist attacks.

Staying the ruling

Although Leon's 68-page opinion, in which he ordered the preliminary injunction, didn't bode well for the NSA's spying program, he ordered a stay of his ruling.

The decision was made in order to give the government time to appeal his decision, as the case moves on to higher courts over the next few months.

"I fully expect that during the appellate process, which will consume at least the next six months, the government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to comply with this order," he wrote in his opinion.

That means, for now, the NSA will continue to be able to collect metadata from phone calls occurring in the US.

With reports that the NSA is tracking hundreds of millions of phone locations and going as far as playing World of Warcraft in order to track down terror suspects, it may be the spying status quo going into 2014.