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Obama Lays Out His Plan To Have Telecoms Store Call Data

Following up on his acknowledgement in January that it's problematic to have the National Security Agency collecting and storing massive amounts of information about individuals' phone calls, President Obama announced Thursday that he has decided "the data should remain at the telephone companies."

NPR's Tamara Keith tells our Newscast Desk that:

"The administration is out with details of what the president wants the program to look like.

"The government would no longer collect telephone records in bulk. Those records would stay with the phone companies until government investigators had a target in mind.

"Then the government would get permission from a judge before asking the companies to share the records. There would be an exception for emergency situations.

"Either way, the companies would be required to hand the records over in a usable format and in a timely manner. The query of those numbers would be ongoing, but for a limited period of time.

"How limited? That is one of many questions senior administration officials said would have to be worked out with congress."

As The Associated Press reports, the White House "hopes Congress will pass new legislation within three months."

Revelations about the NSA's collection of data from millions of phone calls and other electronic communications have been rolling out since last summer, when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking information to The Guardian, The Washington Post and other news outlets.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.