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Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency's surveillance program that collected data from Americans' phone calls was illegal.

What they found: The court concluded that "bulk collection" of phone data violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Wednesday's ruling came seven years after Basaaly Moalin and three other Somali immigrants were found guilty on charges of fundraising for the terror group al-Shabab.

  • The court found that "the so-called telephone metadata program played in a criminal terror-fundraising case against four Somali immigrants was so minor that it did not undermine their convictions," Politico writes.

Background: The metadata collection program was developed after the passage of the Patriot Act following the Sept. 11 attacks. The program was revealed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden and shut down in 2015.

What they're saying: "Here the NSA collected Moalin’s (and millions of other Americans’) telephony metadata on an ongoing, daily basis for years," Judge Marsha Berzon wrote in her opinion. "Moalin likely had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his telephony metadata — at the very least, it is a close question."

The big picture, via Axios' Kyle Daly: The ruling comes as the Trump administration, through Attorney General Bill Barr, has only pushed for more expansive digital surveillance capabilities.

  • Europe’s high court recently struck down a data pact between the EU and U.S. over concerns that Europeans’ private data can’t be protected from American government surveillance.

Read the ruling:

Go deeper

Supreme Court will hear major voting rights case

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a major voting rights case, setting up a clash over states’ handling of absentee ballots.

Why it matters: The court has already invalidated a key section of the Voting Rights Act, even before President Trump solidified and expanded its conservative majority, and is now poised to limit voting-rights enforcement again.

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks with reporters in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief draft comes after McConnell's meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Barr appoints special counsel to continue investigating origins of Russia probe

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday he appointed veteran prosecutor John Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19 to continue investigating the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why it matters: It's an extra layer of protection for Durham to continue investigating possible misconduct by Obama-era intelligence officials past Joe Biden's inauguration as president.