The Obama administration proposes for an overhaul of the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records program in a way that would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates. Its existence was leaked last year by Edward Snowden the former NSA contractor. Under the new proposal, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order. According to the proposal, the N.S.A. now retains the phone data for five years. But the administration considered and rejected imposing a mandate on phone companies that they hold on to their customers’ calling records for a period longer than the 18 months that federal regulations already generally require — a burden that the companies had resisted shouldering and that was seen as a major obstacle to keeping the data in their hands. A senior administration official said that intelligence agencies say that the impact of that change would be minimal because older data is not as important. CCTV’s Jim Spellman reports with details.
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