The Obama administration has plans to detail a legislative proposal that could curb the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of bulk phone-call records of private citizens. The proposal follows President Obama’s promise to “end the [bulk phone-record collection] program as it currently exists” during a speech on NSA reforms in January.
As part of the proposal, “the bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order,” the New York Times reports.
The NSA, at present, retains phone data for as long as five years. President Obama aims to renew that program for “at least one more 90-day cycle,” but as part of the program developed by the administration, it will be replaced with the new scheme soon afterwards.
Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Times, “We have many questions about the details, but we agree with the administration that the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of call records should end.” He added, “As we’ve argued since the program was disclosed, the government can track suspected terrorists without placing millions of people under permanent surveillance.”
Under the new plan, the NSA won’t be able to collect and store all call data. Instead, it would be required to get orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain call data on specific phone numbers, after a judge agrees those numbers are linked to terrorism.
Obama is likely to announce the changes to the Section 215 program this Friday. It is worth mentioning here that the court order that originally authorized the program also expires at the same time.