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Obama: NSA won’t hold your phone records anymore

Now the bigger question: Who will hold them?


Kevin Collier


The first fallout from Edward Snowden‘s revelations has finally come, even if the change is a small one.

President Obama will announce in an 11am ET Friday speech that he will end the National Security Agency‘s practice of storing practically all American phone records, a White House representative told the Daily Dot.

This is in line with the findings of the five-member panel that Obama tasked with reviewing the NSA. Their report, completed in December, found that collecting and storing American phone metadata in bulk had prevented no terrorist attacks and recommended that the NSA no longer be allowed to store that database.

That’s not to say such information will no longer be stored. It’s just that the NSA won’t have it at its fingertips. Multiple reports say that the agency will need a court order to investigate someone’s complete phone records.

The fact that the NSA received quarterly court orders to have phone companies turn over customers’ records was the first of many NSA programs revealed by Snowden,a former systems administrator who fled the U.S. with a cache of classified documents. Though the bulk metadata collection program is relatively tame compared to some of the agency’s other programs, it’s particularly notorious for broadly collecting information on essentially all Americans.

There’s still a glaring hole in Obama’s plan: identifying who, exactly, is going to store those records. Obama’s panel left it up to him to decide whether to simply have phone companies store the information, or to create a third party to do it.

Some phone companies, like AT&T, already store more of their own customers’ metadata than the NSA does. But the industry as a whole, the New York Times has reported, is reluctant to play the role of regular gatekeeper of that information.

The White House said he plans to further consult with the attorney general and select members of Congress about how to move forward.

Photos by?jurvetson/Flick and (remix by Fernando Alfonso III)

The Daily Dot