- The Washington Times - Friday, August 28, 2015

The National Security Agency’s phone-snooping program received federal court approval to continue through November, the last such renewal of the program allowable under legislation approved this year by Congress.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week approved an extension of the program, which allows authorities to collect phone “metadata,” according to a statement issued Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice.

The order was announced the same day that a federal appeals court dealt a blow to a legal challenge of the program, with a three-judge panel questioning the strength of evidence raised by the plaintiff and remanding it back to a lower court for further proceedings.

Earlier this year, Congress approved the USA Freedom Act, which dramatically scaled back the NSA program. The legislation, signed by President Obama, has phone companies retain the data and allows the NSA to obtain information in only specific cases involving targeted individuals and with permission from a federal court. The act allowed for a 180-day transition period, but officials noted that the authority to continue the program was set to expire Friday without a new order.

“As of November 29, 2015, both the 180-day transition period and the Court’s authorization will have expired and the bulk collection of telephony metadata pursuant to Section 215 will cease,” the joint statement said.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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