A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out a judge’s ruling that would have blocked the National Security Agency from collecting phone metadata under a controversial program that has raised privacy concerns.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said there were not sufficient grounds for the preliminary injunction imposed by the lower court.
The ruling was a setback for privacy advocates but did not reach the bigger question of whether the NSA’s actions were lawful. It means the massive program to collect and store phone records, disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, can continue unaffected until it expires at the end of November.
Under the USA Freedom Act, which Congress passed in June, the program was allowed to continue for 180 days until new provisions aimed at addressing the privacy issues go into effect.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the ruling was “consistent with what this administration has said for some time, which is that we did believe that these capabilities were constitutional.”
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