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Telephone Surveillance Challenge Rejected by High Court

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge to the Obama administration’s spying practices, leaving intact an order that required Verizon Communications Inc. to turn over records of its customers’ domestic phone calls.

The justices today said they won’t hear arguments from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which argued that a national-security court exceeded its authority by ordering Verizon to provide the call data.

The case represented the Supreme Court’s first opportunity to review the surveillance program since former government contractor Edward Snowden began releasing information about the extent of data and communications swept up by the National Security Agency.

EPIC, as the Washington-based privacy group is known, faced a high hurdle in its bid for Supreme Court review because it took the unusual step of filing its complaint directly with the high court. In urging the justices not to intervene, the Obama administration pointed to similar suits that have been filed at federal trial courts.

EPIC, a Verizon customer, challenged an April 2013 order issued by a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The order centered on “metadata” -- call logs showing phone numbers, time and duration.

The case is In Re Electronic Privacy Information Center, 13-58.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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