New Legislative Proposal Seeks to End NSA's Bulk Data Collection of Phone Records
March 25, 2014 2:31 PM
Phone companies will be the only ones to hold these records unless court ordered to hand them over
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) could see the end of its bulk data collection days with a recent legislative proposal from the White House.
The New York Times
, the legislation would allow phone companies to hold onto data about phone calls made to and from Americans, but they wouldn't be required to keep the data longer than typically needed.
But the phone companies would also have to provide data about the numbers of suspected terrorist's under a court order. This would offer real-time, ongoing data about any new calls made to or from the suspect’s phone number.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is tasked with approving each number, and seeing how likely it is that they have ties to a suspected terrorist or terrorist group.
This proposal is still being worked on, but it places strong limitations on the NSA and its access to American's data -- thus ending the bulk collection of data such as phone numbers.
The proposal also looks to renew the current program for at least one more 90-day cycle.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in January that the White House had until this Friday to come up with ways to end the government’s mass collection of phone data. The president, however, walks a fine line between gaining the trust back of the American people while also ensuring that the NSA and other government agencies can protect the country.
This proposal comes at the same time as a bipartisan bill drafted by the House Intelligence Committee. It aims to end bulk data collection and keep phone records with phone companies as well.
The bill, expected to be introduced today, bans the mass collection of different types of information, including phone call records, Internet activity and location info.
A big issue for many, though, is that it doesn't call for judicial approval of a specific phone number before a request for data.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the cover on the NSA's surveillance programs earlier last year, which consisted of bulk data collection from sources like phone records, where the government took on a "collect now, filter later" approach. The agency has said that the bulk data collection was meant to identify terrorist threats, but it's been discovered that the data of Americans has been collected without any clear evidence of terrorist links.
In August, reports said that the NSA admitted to
touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic
. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to
give him their login credentials and passwords
while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.
Many top tech leaders, like
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, have spoken out against the NSA's programs along with civil-liberties advocates, U.S. citizens and even
that had the NSA peeping in their window.
A presidential review panel made 46 recommendations regarding greater restraint on the NSA's surveillance programs in December 2013.
The New York Times
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