By Elijah Lutz, Staff Writer
On Monday, a United States District Court in the District of Columbia said that the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM Program may be unconstitutional. While the court did not order that the PRISM Program be stopped, the Honorable Richard J. Leon did order that the NSA stop collecting the phone records of the plaintiff in the case: of a Californian lawyer and his firm.
According to the New York Times, this may affect all of Americans since the NSA has admitted that it would be extremely difficult to continue the program while screening out the data of a specific individual. Leon wrote that he was well aware that his ruling may force the NSA to shut down their program early. It was scheduled to shut down PRISM and replace it with an alternate program Nov. 29.
The Patriot Act was passed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The controversial legislation was created to help the government fight terrorism by enhancing investigative options and techniques and making it easier for government authorities to investigate suspected terrorists. Critics argue that citizens’ privacy is being infringed upon without due process, search warrants or probable cause, therefore violating the Fourth Amendment. Those in support of the Patriot Act claim that the government should have the authority to do whatever necessary to prevent terrorism and any attacks against the United States and its citizens, and that the suspension of the program would make it easier for terroristic acts and plans to go unnoticed by the authorities.
Just three days after the Paris attacks, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush voiced his support for the Patriot Act and called for the reinstatement of the PRISM program. During his appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he described the program as “a useful tool to keep us safe and also to protect civil liberties.”