News / USA

Obama, Legislators Propose Plans to Stop Massive NSA Phone Data Collection

FILE - The National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Maryland.
FILE - The National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Maryland.
Cindy Saine
Both U.S. President Barack Obama and key committee leaders in Congress are proposing legislation that would end the National Security Agency's collection and storage of massive amounts of Americans' phone records.  The proposed changes come in response to a wave of privacy concerns at home and abroad triggered by revelations last year from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Tuesday brought two major announcements on proposed changes to surveillance operations of the National Security Agency, or NSA.  Speaking at a nuclear summit in The Hague, President Obama said that revelations about U.S. surveillance have made it necessary to win back the trust of governments, and more importantly, of ordinary citizens.

"And so it's going to be necessary for us - the step we took that was announced today I think is an example of us slowly, systematically putting in more checks, balances, legal processes.  The good news is that I'm very confident that it can be achieved," said President Obama.

Under the president’s proposal, which has not been formally released, the government would have to obtain permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain data from phone companies on calls connected to suspected terrorists.  The phone companies would be required to provide the NSA with updated information if any new phone calls are made to or from that number.
 
Phone companies would not be required to maintain the phone call records for any longer than they do now.
 
In the U.S. House of Representatives, House Intelligence Committee leaders introduced similar legislation, crafted by the committee's Republican chairman and its ranking Democrat.  That bill also bars the NSA from the bulk collection of phone records, but does not require the government to obtain a court order before it asks phone companies for the data.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers:  
 
“We think that we have found a way to end the government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, and still provide a mechanism to protect the United States," said Rogers.

The ranking Democratic member on the committee, Dutch Ruppersberger, said he believes the House proposal is not that different from the White House proposal, and that agreement can be reached.

“I believe we are very, very close.  The White House understands that we need to do something to deal with the issue of holding bulk collection because of the perception of our constituents.  That is number one," said Ruppersberger.

The congressmen did not specify a timeline for possible action on the NSA reforms on the House floor, and the Senate would also have to act before legislation could be sent to the president for his signature.  The House proposal is already drawing criticism from some members of Congress and civil rights activists who are calling for more stringent controls on government surveillance to protect citizens’ privacy.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More