US President will make proposal to Congress following major public outcry at NSA mass surveillance
President Obama will propose to Congress that the National Security Agency (NSA) should stop the bulk storing of US citizens phone records, it has been revealed.
A senior government official said that the President will ask Congress to end the bulk collection and storage of phone records by the NSA, which has come under fire following the continued revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
However, under the terms of the proposal the government will still be able to access ‘metadata’ which includes details of the length and destination, concerning millions of phone calls carried out every day in the United States when needed.
Winning back trust
If approved, the US government will now need to obtain permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review data about the time and duration of telephone calls that it believes may be connected to terror attacks.
The bulk records will no longer be kept by the NSA, but will remain with the phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. The administration had considered requiring the companies to hold on to data for longer than 18 months, but this was rejected after a panel concluded that newer data is the most important for investigations.
U.S. intelligence agencies have to “win back the trust, not just of governments but more importantly of ordinary citizens” around the world, President Obama said at a separate speech in The Hague yesterday. Doing so is “not going to happen overnight because I think that there’s a tendency to be sceptical of government and to be sceptical, in particular, of US intelligence services,” he added.
“The fears about our privacy in this age of the Internet and big data are justified.”
President Obama first pledged to curb the NSA’s data gathering back in January, following a particularly damaging set of leaks from Snowden concerning so-called ‘Quantum’ attacks on disconnected computers. He had instructed Justice Department and intelligence officials to come up with a plan by 28 March when the current court order authorising the program expires.
In a statement issued through his lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, Snowden, who is currently in asylum in Russia, called Obama’s proposal a “turning point.”
“It marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government,” his statement said.
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