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FISA Court Backs NSA Program Of Phone Data Collection

A special federal surveillance court has reaffirmed the constitutionality of a National Security Agency program that collects data about most of the nation's phone traffic. NPR's Larry Abramson reports that the court says the records of phone metadata are not protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court says continuation of the controversial collection program is justified as a way to prevent terror attacks. The opinion points out that the Supreme Court has ruled that information about the time and length of phone calls is not protected in the same way as the actual content. The opinion says the program can continue because the government adheres to restrictions meant to protect the privacy of innocent callers.

Recent leaks show the NSA has violated those restrictions repeatedly. The NSA says those violations were accidental. The FISA court's ruling was dated Aug. 29, but released on Tuesday.

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