President Obama is planning to come up with a legislative proposal that could put an end to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program of collecting phone records in bulk, according to a report from the New York Times. If the legislation is passed, the NSA will require an official court order to collect specific records on American citizens.
Clinching NSA powers
As per the proposal, now a court order will be required for phone companies to provide records quickly in a compatible data format. Also, phone companies will have to provide data even for the new calls after the order. Presently, the NSA is allowed to hold the phone record for 5 years, but if the new legislation is passed the duration could go down to 18 months.
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Obama administration proposal could also include a clause clarifying the Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which will expire next year unless Congress reauthorizes it. The proposal could ask if the section, in the future, could officially be interpreted as allowing bulk data collection of telephone data.
Questions over NSA practices have been making rounds ever since former contractor Edward Snowden exposed the secret information. Since then there have been large debates, with one set of people surprised by the power of NSA to snoop into anything ranging from instant messages to social networking and calls while the other group believes that such practices are necessary to curb and prevent criminal acts, with room for plenty of gray in the middle.
Efforts from Obama noteworthy
It must be noted that President Obama, in January, promised to come up with laws to restrict the NSA from collecting call records in bulk. At that time, Obama did acknowledge that the job is difficult as the balance has to be maintained between protecting a citizen’s privacy and the program’s abilities. The President, at that time, had a given a mandate of March 28, which is the same date the court order authorizing the program expires.
While the President’s words were comforting to some, “talk is cheap,” the saying goes, and it should be noted that many procedures and processes have to be followed before the revamp of the NSA becomes a reality. Foremost is the approval of Congress. The proposal from Obama administration will be presented to Congress along with many more bills ranging from making minor changes to the NSA practices to proposals to end it.
It must be noted that the proposal would not have any bearing on other forms of bulk collection under the same provision like the CIA, which has been granted orders for the collection of bulk records on international money transfers through companies like Western Union.