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Review panel says NSA should stop storing Americans' phone records

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The review panel appointed by President Obama to make recommendations about the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance programs has called for an end to the NSA’s database of U.S. phone records, the Washington Post reports.

In a 300-plus-page report, the five-member panel made 46 recommendations, including ending spying on allied foreign leaders and banning government agencies from tampering with commercial software to break encryption.

The panel also called for more oversight in the government’s use of powerful “zero-day” hacking exploits. A leaked intelligence community budget revealed earlier this year that the NSA spent $25 million on software vulnerabilities in 2013.

On the issue of telephone data collection, the review board suggested that phone companies, not the NSA, should be storing Americans’ records. To access that data, the NSA would have to get approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the controversial body that oversees the agency’s requests for information from private companies. 

Phone companies would not be required to hold onto the records any longer than they currently do.

These recommendations are advisory only. President Obama will decide in January which items the government will act on.  

Photo via octal/Flickr