A U.S. appeals court on Thursday refused to immediately halt the federal government’s collection of phone records belonging to millions of Americans during a “transition” period to a new scheme that bans the controversial surveillance.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, which in May found the National Security Agency’s sweeping program illegal, said it would not disturb Congress’ decision to provide a 180-day transition period to allow an orderly end to the program.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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