Privacy Law

Obama, lawmakers reportedly set to unveil plan to restrict NSA collection of phone data

The Obama administration and leaders of the House Intelligence Committee will reportedly unveil plans to restrict the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records.

Unnamed senior intelligence officials tell the New York Times that Obama’s plan would leave the data with phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than it is usually kept. NSA officials could obtain specific records only with a judge’s order. Currently federal regulations generally require phone companies to keep records for 18 months; the NSA now holds phone records for five years.

The president’s plan relies on Congress to pass legislation, the Associated Press reports. The Times says the proposal will join “a jumble of bills in Congress ranging from proposals that would authorize the current program with only minor adjustments, to proposals to end it.”

Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee will unveil on Tuesday a plan that is “strikingly similar” to the president’s proposal, though it doesn’t require a judge’s advance approval for phone records requests, unnamed congressional aides tell the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would have to approve the new program, and then reauthorize it every year.

U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D- Md., told the Wall Street Journal that the bill is needed to restore public trust and “checks and balances.”

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