A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that the telephone metadata collection program, under which the National Security Agency gathers up millions of phone records on an ongoing daily basis, is illegal under the Patriot Act.
The government has argued it has the power to carry forward with the program under a section of the Patriot Act, which expires in June. Lawmakers are locked in a debate on whether or how to renew the authority, which was first passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, but has been renewed by both Presidents Bush and Obama in the intervening years.
Documents confirming the program's existence were first revealed in June of 2013 with the leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
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