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Judge orders preservation of phone data

WASHINGTON — A federal judge has directed the government to preserve phone data gathered under a National Security Agency surveillance program beyond a five-year limit.

The order by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who presides over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, will be in effect while a dispute over preservation of phone data is pending in federal court in the Northern District of California. In the California lawsuits, two private groups challenging the NSA program’s legality obtained an order to preserve phone data that may be relevant to the case.

Walton’s action temporarily reverses his earlier decision rejecting a Justice Department request to preserve the phone data beyond five years, saying that doing so would infringe on privacy interests of U.S. citizens.

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