Earlier today, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the government from destroying call record metadata in the 215 program. "It is undisputed," he wrote, "that the Court would be unable to afford effective relief once the records are destroyed, and therefore the harm to Plaintiffs would be irreparable."
Judge White's brief order---as well as its underlying logic---directly conflicts with FISC Judge Reggie B. Walton's March 7 order which required that the government destroy the telephony metadata. The government had requested that it be permitted not to destroy data after the normal five year period to preserve it for evidence in civil litigation. Judge Walton, as we reported the other day, had refused.
In other words, at least for now, the government is under order both to destroy the data and to preserve the very same data.