The American Civil Liberties Union has filed court papers arguing that the National Security Agency's collection of public phone call data is unconstitutional and should be stopped.
The ACLU warned of the dangers of large-scale government intrusion into private lives, citing the writings of George Orwell and the type of widespread surveillance by the former East Germany's secret police, reports The New York Times
The new motion, filed Monday, is part of a federal lawsuit the group filed in June
challenging the NSA's data collection. The suit argues that the program violates the First Amendment rights of free speech and association as well as the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment. The complaint also charges that the program exceeds the authority provided by Congress through the Patriot Act.
The Justice Department will ask the judge, William Pauley III of the Southern District of New York, to dismiss it, the Times reports.
Officials have argued that the NSA database contains only the numbers called and the time and duration of each call, and say it is searched only in cases of reasonable suspicion of terrorism and terrorist plots.
The collection of phone data is approved by a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but the ACLU suit reportedly charges that the date collection violates the First Amendment by imposing "a far-reaching chill" on the ACLU's interaction with clients and sources.
"Americans do not expect that their government will make a note every time they pick up the phone of whom they call, precisely when they call them and for precisely how long they speak," the lawsuit said.
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