A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone data is constitutional, rejecting a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley's decision came just 11 days after a district judge in Washington ruled the opposite - that the agency's "almost Orwellian" surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. The ruling raises the likelihood that the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.
In his 54-page decision, Pauley said there is no evidence that the government has used any of the data collected for purposes other than "investigating and disrupting" terror attacks.
"Technology allowed al-Qaida to operate decentralized and plot international terrorist attacks remotely. The bulk telephony metadata collection program represents the government's counter-punch: connecting fragmented and fleeting communications to re-construct and eliminate al-Qaida's terror network," he wrote.
The judge granted the government's motion to dismiss the case and denied the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction.
The ACLU is reportedly planning to appeal the decision, saying the ruling is "extremely disappointing" and downplays the surveillance program's privacy implications.