NYT: Obama Wants to End NSA Bulk Phone Data Collection

Illustration for article titled NYT: Obama Wants to End NSA Bulk Phone Data Collection

The New York Times reports that President Obama is planning to reveal a legislative proposal that will overhaul the NSA's practices—and put an end to its bulk collection of phone records.

The reports suggests that instead of allowing the NSA to gather and store call data, it would remain with phone companies. Further, carriers wouldn't be asked to retain the data for any longer than they normally would, either. The NSA would only be able to obtain "specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order." The Times explains:

The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said.

They would also allow the government to swiftly seek related records for callers up to two phone calls, or "hops," removed from the number that has come under suspicion, even if those callers are customers of other companies.


The NSA currently holds phone data for five years, but the Times suggests that the Obama administration has rejected a need for phone companies to hold records for that long. Instead, it reports that the records would have to be held no longer than the 18 months.

Since a speech by Obama back in January we've been expecting news of how he planned to reform the NSA. Then, in February, the WSJ reported that he was mulling four possible alternatives to the current model. The option outlined in the NYT's new report agrees with one of those mentioned by the Journal last month.

It remains to be seen exactly what legislation Obama will propose—and even then if it will be put into practice. But, whatever happens, let's hope it's worth the wait. [New York Times]


Image by Whitehouse/Pete Souza

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Does this really require legislation? Even the senate intelligence committee was apparently unaware of some of the goings on, so where's the legislative oversight for any new laws?

The NSA director is in the Sec Def chain of command. Couldn't the President just call his appointee? "Hello Chuck? This is the President. Cut this shit out or I'll have your job. Nice talking to you and please say hello to Lilibet. Bye now."