The nation’s lead intelligence agency announced on Friday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorized the renewal of the controversial phone records collection program first made public by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the agency that heads up the U.S. intelligence community, announced on Friday that “the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority.”
The previously classified court order leaked to the Guardian by Snowden and published on June 5 expired on Friday, and questions circulated on Twitter on Thursday whether the program would be renewed.
The ODNI’s disclosure of the court order application and renewal is part of the declassification order Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made on June 6 about the program.
Robert Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, defended the Constitutionality of program during his remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. on Friday, echoing the argument made to decrying the lack of a proper debate on the issue.
The program is currently under fire around by nations around the globe, in addition to from various members of Congress and civil liberties groups.
Civil libertarians opposed to the program — including the American Civil Liberties Union — have fiercely contended that the collection of metadata records violates the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of U.S. citizens.
Senior intelligence officials have argued that the classified nature of U.S. government surveillance programs makes it difficult to have a proper public debate.