ACLU asks appeals court to undo phone data ruling

NEW YORK — Civil rights lawyers are urging a federal appeals court to outlaw the National Security Agency's collection of millions of Americans' telephone records.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union submitted papers to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan late Thursday.

They say U.S. District Judge William Pauley erred by ruling in December that the phone surveillance program is legal. They say the government can stop terrorism without placing hundreds of millions of Americans under permanent surveillance.

The ACLU sued last year after former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked details of the secret programs. Pauley concluded the program was a necessary extension of security steps taken after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The government declined to comment Friday.