Nearly ten months after former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency was collecting telephone data in bulk, the White House said Thursday that a proposal has been finalized that will put that program to rest.
Following months of debate concerning the United States government’s dragnet collection of raw, basic phone records — the vacuuming of telephony metadata pertaining to millions of Americans on a regular basis — news from the nation’s capital early Thursday indicates that President Barack Obama is prepared to take the next step in drastically altering that previously secret surveillance program.
A fact sheet issued by the administration that morning says the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISC, has approved the White House’s plan to modify the way the American intelligence community interprets Section 215 of the US PATRIOT ACT, which for years has allowed the NSA to sweep up metadata indiscriminately and without obtaining warrants as an implement intended to protect national security. It will need to be authorized by Congress before being codified into law.
Under the White House proposal made public this week, the US government would no longer collect these records in bulk, and instead they would remain in the possession of the telecommunication companies where they originate from for as long as those telecoms currently allow.