FISA

By Ellen Nakashima
Saturday, April 26, 2014

Verizon in January filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the National Security Agency’s program that collects billions of Americans’ call-detail records, but a surveillance court rejected it, according to newly declassified documents and individuals with knowledge of the matter.

In denying the phone company’s petition in March, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer embraced the arguments put forth by the government that the program is constitutional in light of a Supreme Court decision in 1979 that Americans have no expectation of privacy in dialing phone numbers.

A Verizon spokesman declined to confirm or deny that it was the company that filed the challenge. The petitioner’s name is redacted in documents released Friday, but the individuals confirmed it was Verizon, the second largest land-line company in the country.

Until January, no company had filed a legal challenge to the program, the judge said. But the documents make clear the filing came as a result of a December ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington that the NSA program likely was unconstitutional.

The government seeks orders from the court every 90 days to serve on several phone companies, directing them to turn over to the agency on a daily basis all call-detail records. The records include numbers dialed and call times and durations, but not their content.

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