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Friday, 11th September 2015

What Does the Latest Court Ruling on NSA Telephone Metadata Program Mean?

Source: Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

On August 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in Obama v. Klayman, ruled for the government in the ongoing litigation over the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) telephone metadata program. The Klayman ruling, while arising out of the context of the government’s foreign intelligence gathering powers, did not opine on the constitutionality of the NSA’s program. Instead, the decision focused on the procedural prerequisites necessary for a federal court to exercise jurisdiction over the case in the first place. Specifically, the appeals court ruled that the Klayman plaintiffs lacked standing to obtain a preliminary order barring the NSA from continuing the telephone metadata program.

...Pursuant to the 2013 Supreme Court’s ruling in Clapper v. Amnesty International, a plaintiff seeking injunctive relief to stop unlawful government conduct bears the burden of proving that a concrete and particularized injury is “certainly impending” as a result of the allegedly unlawful government action.

Amnesty International arose in the context of a challenge to a different foreign surveillance program – surveillance conducted pursuant to section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. The challenge in that case failed because the plaintiffs, a group of lawyers and human rights activists who had clients that could be subject to section 702 surveillance, had “no actual knowledge” that the government targeted their communications and could only speculate whether the government would imminently target their communications. The Klayman plaintiffs attempted to distinguish Amnesty International on the grounds that they—unlike the Amnesty International litigants—had proof that they were being subject to surveillance under the NSA metadata program.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 132 KB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

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