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Obama plans to end NSA bulk call data collection

Spies are our friends and neighbours
Tue Mar 25 2014, 10:03

UNITED STATES PRESIDENT Barack Obama has said he will scale back National Security Agency (NSA) call data collection practices.

The New York Times reported that the Obama administration will announce legislation soon to cut the scale of call data collection and how long it is retained. The plans will have to be approved by the US Congress, but if they are the NSA will have to scale back its relentless collection of calling data and keep the information for only 18 months.

President Obama has spoken about data collection before, and in January he talked of "concrete reforms".

"Today I am announcing a series of concrete reforms. First, I have approved a new presidential directive for our intelligence activities at home and abroad. With it we will now review decisions about intelligence priorities on an annual basis," he said.

However, the president also justified the reach of the NSA and said that any countries that complained about it are probably just as bad.

"The men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, constantly follow protocols. They're not using their powers to listen to your calls or read your private emails. These people are our friends, our family members, our neighbours," he said.

"Many countries, including those that feigned surprise following the Snowden revelations, are trying to penetrate our networks," he said. "Our agencies will continue to gather intelligence on foreign governments' intentions. We will not apologise for doing it better."

Obama said that there was a deadline of 28 March for making a decision about the future of bulk data collection.

That date is this coming Friday, so it is likely that more concrete details will come out then. Until then the New York Times said that the weeks between January and now have been spent working out "major changes".

These changes reportedly will include scaling back call data collection. Bulk data collection will cease, but the authorities will be able to request some data when they see a need to do so.

A refreshed court order system would ask phone companies to keep "related records for callers" and provide grabbed data in an accessible data format. While records are presently kept for five years, that would be reduced to 18 months.

The newspaper reported that a "senior administration official" source said that older data was "less important". µ


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