Babak Siavoshy has this commentary on Concurring Opinions:
A striking (and underreported) feature of the NSA’s recently-revealed surveillance programs is the government’s practice of seeking court orders for theanalysis and querying of telephony metadata acquired under the program. As Orin Kerr pointed out last week, the DNI director’s statement about the NSA programs states that a reasonable suspicion standard governs government “queries” into call records collected from Verizon and other providers:
By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program. All information that is acquired under this program is subject to strict, court-imposed restrictions on review and handling. The court only allows the data to be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization. [My emphasis.]
This judicially enforced standard—which some commentators appear to have overlooked—could, in theory, impose practical limitations on the government’s access to private information from call records collected by the NSA.
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