The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration plans to announce a new proposal that would “drastically overhaul” the NSA’s phone records-collecting program.
The proposed changes will need to be approved by Congress, according to the report. Obama first called for the changes in a speech last January, giving intelligence officials until March 28 to develop the reforms.
At the time, journalist Glenn Greenwald—who first broke the story of the NSA’s phone-data collection programs—called the proposed reforms “cosmetic” and “basically a PR gesture.”
From the Times report:
Under the proposal, data about Americans' calling habits would be kept in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would, according to senior administration officials. If approved by Congress, the changes would end the most controversial part of the bulk phone records program, a major focus of privacy concerns inside the United States since its existence was leaked last year. ... As part of the proposal, the administration has decided to renew the program as it currently exists for at least one more 90-day cycle, senior administration officials said. But under the plan the administration has developed and now advocates, the officials said, the government would no longer systematically collect and store records of calling data. Instead, it would obtain individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain only records linked to phone numbers a judge agrees are likely tied to terrorism.