WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency may be getting out of the business of sweeping up and storing vast amounts of data on people’s phone calls.
The Obama administration this week is expected to propose that Congress overhaul the electronic surveillance program by having phone companies hold onto the call records as they do now, according to a government official briefed on the proposal. The New York Times first reported the details of the proposal Monday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the plan.
The White House proposal would end the government’s practice of sweeping up the phone records of millions of Americans and holding onto those records for five years so the numbers can be searched for national security reasons. Instead, the White House is expected to propose that the records be kept for 18 months, as the phone companies are already required to do by federal regulation.
Details of the government’s secret phone records collection program were disclosed last year by a former NSA systems analyst. Privacy advocates were outraged to learn that the government was holding onto phone records of innocent Americans for up to five years.
In January, President Barack Obama tasked his administration with coming up with an alternative to the current counterterrorism program. Obama also said that the option of having the phone companies hold the records posed problems.
“This will not be simple,” Obama said. An independent review panel suggested that the practice of the government collecting the phone records be replaced by a third party or the phone companies holding the records, and the government would access them as needed.
“Both of these options pose difficult problems,” Obama said in January. “Relying solely on the records of multiple providers, for example, could require companies to alter their procedures in ways that raise new privacy concerns.”
And the phone companies have been against this option, as well.
In several meetings with White House staff since December, phone company executives came out strongly opposed to proposals that would shift the custody of the records from the NSA to the telecoms. The executives said they would only accept such changes to the NSA program if they were legally required and if that requirement was spelled out in legislation.
The companies are concerned about the costs of retaining the records and potential liability, such as being sued by individuals whose phone data was provided to intelligence or law enforcement agencies, these people said. The discussions with the White House ceased earlier this year. Industry officials said they had not been in contact with the administration as new options were being considered. The executives have continued to discuss the issue with lawmakers, however.
The administration’s proposed changes won’t happen right away. The government plans to continue its bulk collection program for at least three months, the Times said.
The White House does not have the full support of Congress for this option, either.
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has advocated for the program to continue to operate as it does. The California Democrat said she would be open to other options if they met national security and privacy needs.
It is unclear whether the White House proposal will meet those needs.
Leaders of the House intelligence committee are expected to introduce legislation Tuesday that would call for a similar option to the Obama administration’s.
Under the administration’s pending legislative proposal, officials would have to obtain phone records by getting individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Times report said. The new court orders would require companies to provide those records swiftly and to make available continuing data related to the order when new calls are placed or received.
2014 Fantastic Voyage via Instagram
1. Darrin Henson and his wife snap a flick with Charlie Wilson.1 of 100
2. Claudia Jordan loving Grand Turk on FV 14'.2 of 100
3. Shaggy on FV 14!3 of 100
4. Shaggy on FV 14!4 of 100
5. Shaggy on FV 14!5 of 100
6. The TJMS was the 'Despicable Me' crew on Mardi Gras night!6 of 100
7. Darrin Henson with Tom Joyner, Sybil Wilkes and Trey Haley7 of 100
8. Chante Moore snaps a photo with cruisers!8 of 100
9. The cruise deck is always a party!9 of 100
10. Chante Moore snapping Fantastic Voyage selfies!10 of 100
11. Claudia Jordan and Chante Moore!11 of 100
12. The 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information, call 407-248-9191.12 of 100
13. Cathy Hughes and John Legend!13 of 100
14. Tom Joyner snaps photos with guests!14 of 100
15. M&M's during Mardi Gras night!15 of 100
16. Tom Joyner and Bobby Brown hug it out!16 of 100
17. Wendy Raquel Robinson meets guest on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!17 of 100
18. KEM meets with cruisers!18 of 100
19. Heads of State on the Fantastic Voyage 2014!19 of 100
20. 2014 Fantastic Voyage guests checking out Ford's vehicles.20 of 100
21. Bobby Brown in all white!21 of 100
22. Katt Williams brings the laughs!22 of 100
23. Katt Williams brings the laughs!23 of 100
24. Tom greets cruisers!24 of 100
25. George Clinton and a cruiser!25 of 100
26. Heads of State on the Fantastic Voyage 2014!26 of 100
27. The 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information, call 407-248-9191.27 of 100
28. Heads of State on the Fantastic Voyage 2014!28 of 100
29. Chris Paul, Claudia Jordan, Kym Whitley and Huggy Lowdown29 of 100
30. Heads of State rock the stage!30 of 100
31. Katt Williams brings the laughs!31 of 100
32. Heads of State on the Fantastic Voyage 2014!32 of 100
33. AJ Calloway snaps photos with John Legend and Tom Joyner33 of 100
34. Claudia Jordan takes in beautiful views34 of 100
35. Comedian Damon Williams and his father35 of 100
36. Tom Joyner and Wendy Raquel Robinson!36 of 100
37. It's all about The Purple Reign!37 of 100
38. Tom Joyner and Chante Moore!38 of 100
39. Johnny Gill grabs some grub!39 of 100
40. John Legend croons for a second time on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!40 of 100
41. Rodney Perry got down with the 1920s theme!41 of 100
42. The 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information, call 407-248-9191.42 of 100
43. Darrin Henson enjoying the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!43 of 100
44. Kid of Kid n' Play mingling with the cruisers!44 of 100
45. Claudia Jordan in her 70's gear!45 of 100
46. George Clinton and AJ Calloway!46 of 100
47. Klymaxx was ready for their late-night 2am show!47 of 100
48. AJ Calloway and wife participate in the 70s ball!48 of 100
49. The 70's Ball on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!49 of 100
50. Purple Reign!50 of 100
51. The 70's Ball on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!51 of 100
52. Slick Rick rocks the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!52 of 100
53. Robin Thicke and Tom Joyner on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!53 of 100
54. Tom Joyner representing Omega Psi Phi!54 of 100
55. George Clinton brings the funk to the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!55 of 100
56. The Bobby Brown Bar! It's a real thing!56 of 100
57. Kid from Kid n' Play snaps a photo with a cruiser!57 of 100
58. Claudia Jordan and Wendy Raquel Robinson58 of 100
59. The Force MDs on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!59 of 100
60. Wendy Raquel Robinson with cruisers!60 of 100
61. Ice Cube on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!61 of 100
62. Robin Thicke gets all hot and sweaty on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!62 of 100
63. Kym Whitley and Tom Joyner63 of 100
64. Nelly on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!64 of 100
65. Play and Chubb Rock65 of 100
66. Cruisers representing from DETROIT!66 of 100
67. Myra J and Derek J!67 of 100
68. Kym Whitley and a cruiser!68 of 100
69. New Orleans representing on the cruise!69 of 100
70. Robin Thicke jumps into the crowd at the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!70 of 100
71. Comedian Chris Paul and his wife71 of 100
72. Claudia Jordan enjoying FV 14'!72 of 100
73. AJ Calloway snaps a photo with a cruiser!73 of 100
74. Comedian Damon Williams and a cruiser!74 of 100
75. It's a party, it's a party, it's a PARTY on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!75 of 100
76. The 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information, call 407-248-9191.76 of 100
77. Robin Thicke plays the keys on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!77 of 100
78. Play from Kid n' Play snaps a photo with a group of cruisers!78 of 100
79. Robin Thicke rocks the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!79 of 100
80. Ice Cube on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!80 of 100
81. AJ Calloway and Tom Joyner take in Robin Thicke's FV 14' performance81 of 100
82. We keep the crowd crunk on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!82 of 100
83. Comedian Rodney Perry and a cruiser!83 of 100
84. The whole ship was wobbling!84 of 100
85. Robin Thicke and Tom Joyner on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!85 of 100
86. Claudia Jordan with AJ Calloway and wife!86 of 100
87. Miami!87 of 100
88. Robin Thicke on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!88 of 100
89. Robin Thicke rocks the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!89 of 100
90. Robin Thicke jumps into the crowd at the 2014 Fantastic Voyage!90 of 100
91. Celebrity blogger Willie Moore Jr. and actress Wendy Raquel Robinson!91 of 100
92. Tom Joyner and a cruiser!92 of 100
93. Tom Joyner and J. Anthony Brown93 of 100
94. Nelly on the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!94 of 100
95. AJ Calloway and his wife!95 of 100
96. Miamia representing on the cruise!96 of 100
97. Darrin Henson and a cruiser!97 of 100
98. Robin Thicke rocks the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!98 of 100
99. Robin Thicke rocks the 2014 Fantastic Voyage stage!99 of 100
100. The 2014 Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion is August 28- September 1, 2014 in Orlando, Florida! For booking information, call 407-248-9191.100 of 100