President Obama: No More Collection of Bulk Phone Metadata Collection by NSA
President Obama: No More Collection of Bulk Phone Metadata by NSA (Attribution Unknown)

BREAKING:  President Obama issues a statement on telephone metadata: ‘I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk’ – @CarrieNBCNews

Obama said instead of bulk collection the “data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today.” – statement via @NBCNews

From the White House:

The President’s Proposal to Replace the Section 215 Program

For the second step in the transition, the President instructed the Attorney General and the Intelligence Community (IC) to develop options for a new program that could match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 metadata program was designed to address without the government holding the bulk telephony metadata records.  The President further instructed the Attorney General and the IC to report back to him with options for alternative approaches before the program comes up for reauthorization by the FISC on March 28th.

Consistent with this directive, DOJ and the IC developed options designed to meet the criteria the President laid out in his speech — to preserve the capabilities we need without the government holding this metadata. The Administration has also consulted with Congress, the private sector, privacy and civil liberties groups, and other interested groups.

On the basis of these consultations, and after having carefully considered the available options, the President has decided on a proposal that will, with the passage of appropriate legislation, allow the government to end bulk collection of telephony metadata records under Section 215, while ensuring that the government has access to the information it needs to meet its national security requirements.  Under the President’s proposal, a new program would be created with the following key attributes:

  • the government will not collect these telephone records in bulk; rather, the records would remain at the telephone companies for the length of time they currently do today;
  • absent an emergency situation, the government would obtain the records only pursuant to individual orders from the FISC approving the use of specific numbers for such queries, if a judge agrees based on national security concerns;
  • the records provided to the government in response to queries would only be within two hops of the selection term being used, and the government’s handling of any records it acquires will be governed by minimization procedures approved by the FISC;
  • the court-approved numbers could be used to query the data over a limited period of time without returning to the FISC for approval, and the production of records would be ongoing and prospective; and
  • the companies would be compelled by court order to provide technical assistance to ensure that the records can be queried and that results are transmitted to the government in a usable format and in a timely manner.

The President believes that this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence requirements while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which this information is collected and held.