Obama wants no call data held

Last updated 15:20 25/03/2014

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The White House is preparing a proposal that would curb the bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency, the New York Times has reported, citing administration officials.

US President Barack Obama in January outlined a series of limited reforms to NSA data-gathering, banning eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly or allied nations and proposing some changes to how NSA treats Americans' phone data.

The most sweeping programme, collection of telephone "metadata", comes up for reauthorisation on Friday.

Obama had asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the US intelligence community to report back to him before that deadline on how to preserve the necessary capabilities of the programme, without the government holding the metadata.

The Times quoted officials as saying the administration had decided to renew the current programme for one more 90-day cycle. But under Obama's legislative proposal, the government would no longer systematically collect and store records of phone-call data, but get orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain records of numbers that a judge determines are tied to terrorism.

The call data would be kept with telephone companies that would not be required to keep the information any longer tan they normally do, the officials told the Times.

White House officials did not offer immediate comment.

The Times said the administration's proposal would also include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the Patriot Act, due to expire next year without congressional authorisation, "may in the future be legitimately interpreted as allowing bulk phone data collection''.

Metadata collection has been a heated issue since disclosures last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of widespread US surveillance activities.

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- Reuters

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