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A federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone data on hundreds of millions of Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches.

The ruling means the government can continue collecting the data for the next few months, although the program is set to expire at the end of November under legislation that Congress passed earlier this summer to replace it. The appeals court sent the case back for a judge to determine whether the government must divulge more details about the program that would enable the case to go forward.

The ruling is the latest in a succession of decisions in federal courts in Washington and New York that at various points threatened the constitutionality of the NSA's surveillance program, but have so far upheld the amassing of records from U.S. domestic phone customers.

The appeals court ruled that challengers to the program have not shown "a substantial likelihood" that they would win their case on the merits.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown said it was possible the government would refuse to provide information about the secret program that could help the challengers pursue their case. In a separate opinion, Judge Stephen Williams said the challengers would need to show they actually were targeted by the surveillance program.

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