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United States Government Privacy

White House To Propose Ending NSA Phone Records Collection 208

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kind-of-sort-of dept.
The New York Times reported last night that the White House is planning to introduce a legislative package that would mostly end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. Instead, phone companies would be required to hand over records up to "two hops" from a target number. Phone companies would be required to retain records for 18 months (already legally mandated) instead of the NSA storing records for five years. It does not appear that secret courts and secret orders from the court would be abolished, however. From the article: "The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said ... The administration’s proposal would also include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the Patriot Act, due to expire next year unless Congress reauthorizes it, may in the future be legitimately interpreted as allowing bulk data collection of telephone data. ... The proposal would not, however, affect other forms of bulk collection under the same provision."
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White House To Propose Ending NSA Phone Records Collection

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  • Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stumbles (602007) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:11AM (#46572717)
    This "call" no doubt falls into the same category of the Patriot Act Obama railed against as a Senator but has since expanded.
    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NotDrWho (3543773) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:42AM (#46572877)

      And considering the long and illustrious history of the NSA flat out LYING to the American people, Congress, and even the President himself; I wouldn't trust them to actually implement any change even if Congress passed 100 laws mandating it and the President made a pinkie promise that they were going to follow them.

      Shit, I wouldn't trust them if they told me if was daytime outside and my watch read 1 p.m.

      • There must still be a way to mitigate the power they wield over the present surveillance state, or at the very least, they still suspect there is.

        Otherwise, there would be no point in introducing this mollifying piece of legislation.

        I suspect the upcoming need for reaffirmation of the Patriot Act may play a role in all this.

        • by NotDrWho (3543773)

          At this point, the NSA and CIA are so strong and so corrupt that the only way to ever clean them up would be to essentially gut them both completely, ban most of their leadership from government service, and basically start over.

          • None of the 545 people responsible for everything that is allowed in this Country work at those two outfits.
        • There is. Fire everyone involved. Close the facilities. Make them into museums for people to visit and see the follies of our past. That how this will eventually end anyway, it's just a matter of how bad we're going to let it get before we do it.

      • I would trust them do do exactly what they claim: Stop blanket collection of voice telephone conversations of US citizens. That will be just a minor inconvenience since they will retain collection and tracking of SMS, IMEI, email, IM, HTTP, HTTPS, DNS, financial transactions, passwords, travel reservations, and any other electronic information they can get their hands on.

        The American people are dumb and don't know how technology more advanced than a telephone works or how much information they leak in their

        • by daem0n1x (748565)

          I would trust them do do exactly what they claim: Stop blanket collection of voice telephone conversations of US citizens

          While they're at it, why not stopping the blanket collection of voice telephone conversations of NON-US CITIZENS, TOO? See, I'm one of those 96% percent of the world population who are not Americans and kind of don't like being spied on.

          • While they're at it, why not stopping the blanket collection of voice telephone conversations of NON-US CITIZENS, TOO? See, I'm one of those 96% percent of the world population who are not Americans and kind of don't like being spied on.

            The NSA's mandate if FOREIGN Intelligence gathering. Spying on the rest of the world is their job.

            If you don't like being spied upon by the NSA, I suggest lobbying your own government to make espionage by foreigners illegal in your country.

            Oh, wait! It already is illega

    • Re:Sure (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @09:14AM (#46573075)

      But look,we're going to downgrade our activities from Deplorable to Reprehensible!

    • Re:Sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MachineShedFred (621896) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @09:27AM (#46573139) Journal

      Or, more appropriately, the NSA is part of the executive branch.

      Obama is the Chief Executive.

      If he really wanted to stop this shit, he could issue an executive order stopping this shit. Congress never passed a law requiring the NSA to collect this data; Obama could stop this shit RIGHT NOW if he wanted to.

      But he doesn't want to. He wants to pass the buck, and blame a gridlocked Congress when the House does what the House does - shitcan any proposed legislation coming from this White House.

      This is just a cheap and cynical play to score some points before a midterm election. Obama has exactly zero intentions of actually shutting this down.

      • Re:Sure (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @09:43AM (#46573249)

        Obama is the Chief Executive.

        If he really wanted to stop this shit, he could issue an executive order stopping this shit. Congress never passed a law requiring the NSA to collect this data; Obama could stop this shit RIGHT NOW if he wanted to.

        Just so.

        Recently, Congress got upset when it discovered that the CIA was monitoring their use of a certain computer.

        When the congresscritters (who were Dems) started yelling about it, Obama's response was that he was going to remain "neutral" in this argument between CIA and Congress.

        So, the head guy in the Executive Branch, when the Executive Branch gets into a shouting match with the Legislative Branch is going to be NEUTRAL???

        He's either in favour of the CIA behaving as it did (whether the CIA is right or wrong in this case is not relevant), or he's not really in charge of his own branch of government.

        Which, in either case, makes him a (let's keep this polite) less-than-good President.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Nope.
          He is stay neutral on the spat between the two groups. He is not stay neutral in the surveillance.

          http://www.washingtontimes.com... [washingtontimes.com]

          "He's either in favour of the CIA behaving as it did"
          He has been very clear he is not in favor of the type of behavior the CIA is accused of.

          "r he's not really in charge of his own branch of government."
          of course he is.

          Here is a 3rd choice: It's fucking complicated.

          • Re:Sure (Score:4, Informative)

            by HermMunster (972336) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @12:59PM (#46575135)

            It isn't a spat. President Obama can't stay neutral, because the people under his authority have violated the constitution (on face value) and a slew of other federal crimes. When people under your authority commit crimes you can't stay neutral.

      • At this point, I'd expect nothing less from him. But isn't it silly to complain about the NSA? We have reached the point in our slide into fascism that the government loudly proclaims the "right" to - and in at least several cases that we know of - actually has executed American citizens without trial. (Including a 16 year old kid from Denver whose "crime" was having the wrong father.) To complain that such a regime is also spying on your communications is a bit like complaining that one's torturer has ba
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Data collect has real and useful uses and contrary to /. ignorance, data collection can help against a variety of crimes.
        Just blankly not allowing any surveillance would be stupid.
        Yes it needs to be limited, but the exact line is hard to find.

        • Re:Sure (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @11:33AM (#46574305) Journal

          How about we start with just not renewing the PATRIOT act. That would probably still leave plenty of room for way over line surveillance but it would be a good start.

          911 was a decade and a half ago, we don't need it anymore; because the only reason we ever needed it was a purely psychological one where people had to feel the government was "doing something".

      • Hey now! Lets not be so cynical! It could have something to do with the revelations a few weeks ago that the intelligence community spied on and tried to intimidate the Senate oversight of the CIA.

        I mean, yeah, obviously it's not to actually do anything that will benefit you or I or ACTUALLY reduce big brother's spying ability, just saying it might ALSO be to give Feinstein cover to drop the issue! That's not completely selfish!

        (In case it's not clear to anyone this early in the morning, the above
      • by Marble68 (746305)

        Check out "Winning by losing".

        For example, during the gun control debate, the Senate bill was loaded with the most insane crap ever; thus ensuring it would never pass.

        This is a typical ploy by this Administration; to triangulate the opposition to being the the opposite side of an issue.

        1) Propose legislation you tell the public is to stop NSA snooping
        2) Poison it with a massive, unconstitutional, and exploitive expansion of authority for the FCC
        3) Refuse to compromise on the removal of destructive legislati

      • If he really wanted to stop this shit, he could issue an executive order stopping this shit

        Bullshit. This is absolutely inaccurate & blows your whole premise. Obama is the head of the Executive Branch but that doesn't mean he has absolute Fiat power over all policies

        Obama can't just declassify all classified documents or delete a whole organization by "executive order" for example...he can't just *delete* the Air Force from the Defense budget.

        Just because Bush started two illegal wars with "executive or

        • by Straif (172656)

          Just for clarification, both of Bush's wars were started with Congressional approval and not by executive order. You might be mistaking them with Obama's incursion into Libya which was in fact by executive order only with no congressional involvement.

          • Yeah, that's why "executive order" was in quotations...Bush is responsible of course...

            The wars were started by criminals who wanted to enrich themselves via the oil, heroin, govt contract fraud.

            Bush/Cheney did **whatever their evil minds could imagine**

      • Or, more appropriately, the NSA is part of the executive branch.

        Obama is the Chief Executive.

        If he really wanted to stop this shit, he could issue an executive order stopping this shit.

        You've made the assumption he's actually in charge. Look at how much he campaigned for, that he's now against in deed and action, and to a far greater degree of just a 'typical lying politician'. For all practical purposes (other than his tepid healthcare plaything), he is a Republican. Gitmo, Wall Street, on and o

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Its a shame rather than listen to what they say people don't look at his voting record.

      Had anyone bothered to have actually done so, they would have seen that what he says and what he does/votes are pretty much polar opposites and have been since his first day in the senate.

      He's pretty transparent if you open your eyes.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        That's blatantly false.

        Name something he said he would do, and didn't try?
        Either he did it, or it was blocked.

    • Or more recently (2009), the decision to release photos of the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan in compliance with a court order, and then two weeks later saying "Oh nevermind, we're going to do the exact opposite." The Intercept [firstlook.org] has a good writeup of that.
    • Bush & Republicans are responsible for absolutely everything you listed.

      Republicans refuse to let any reform of the Patriot Act pass through Congress.

      Bush II originated virtually all of the policies Snowden's info reveals.

      Obama has done *nothing* but try to reform as much as GOP obstructionists will allow.

      My facts are checkable. Obama is *not* doing this.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:12AM (#46572723)

    The New York Times reported last night that the White House is planning to introduce a legislative package that would mostly end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records.

    They have no intention of ending it, they just are forcing others to do it for them. Basically instead of you and I paying for the NSA to spy on us with tax dollars were going to pay the NSA to spy on us with our phone bills instead. Just because they privatize the burden of data collection doesn't mean they are ending anything.

    Instead, phone companies would be required to hand over records up to "two hops" from a target number.

    What this means in practice is that if you and I both call FedEx that is considered a "hop" and now our numbers are linked. They essentially can use any commonly called number to get to anyone else and you can cover a HUGE percentage of the population with a few common phone numbers. This is a "limitation" that really isn't a limitation.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Forget FedEx. You call your phone company to set up service, that's a hop. Anyone else who calls that number, getting a phone service set up, is now within two hops.

      Genius.

    • by crashcy (2839507)
      If you have no one to call, you have nothing to fear.

      It gets lonely though.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @10:06AM (#46573459) Homepage

      Just because they privatize the burden of data collection doesn't mean they are ending anything.

      No, I think that depending on the implementation, it's a huge difference. I honestly don't have a problem with law enforcement collecting phone records, so long as they are able to get a warrant that is in keeping with the 4th amendment. I also don't have a problem with them saying to phone providers, "You must keep the phone records we might solicit for a period of X months, in case we do solicit them, and you must have the infrastructure to provide that information in a timely manner." Assuming it's easy, reasonable, and effective for phone carriers to do that, I don't really have a problem with the idea.

      And I do think there's a huge difference between that and the NSA collecting the data themselves. The problem I have with the NSA spying is specifically that they collect and store this information on their own servers. The metaphor I've used to describe my problem with the NSA wiretapping is that the physical equivalent would be as though they regularly rifled through your belongings and recorded potential evidence, and then say, "But that's not a 4th amendment violation because we promise not to look at or think about this evidence unless we think you've done something wrong!" To that I say, no, you need to get the warrant first, and then you can collect evidence. You can't collect evidence first and then later get a warrant to use that evidence, since that system is too easy to abuse.

      Of course, they should still have to get a real warrant, and not through some secret court where the charges and proceedings are all hidden from the public.

      • by sjbe (173966)

        I honestly don't have a problem with law enforcement collecting phone records, so long as they are able to get a warrant that is in keeping with the 4th amendment.

        I do when they don't have a specific reason to collect them given that the government has proven all too willing to circumvent or even flat ignore the 4th amendment. The reason to collect the records has to come before the collection of the records and that reason should be vetted by a court that is answerable to the electorate rather than some secret court with no accountability whatsoever. If they want to provide some evidence that what they are doing is helpful to national security then they can releas

        • I do when they don't have a specific reason to collect them given that the government has proven all too willing to circumvent or even flat ignore the 4th amendment.

          Notice the second clause to that sentence that you quoted? "...so long as they are able to get a warrant that is in keeping with the 4th amendment." What I'm saying is I don't have a problem with the FBI or local police department tapping phones or gathering phone records, so long as they are following traditional 4th amendment rules. That includes that they need to have a specific target and that they're investigating for a specific crime.

          It isn't as easy for the phone companies as one might think.

          Yet they're already providing the records, so it can't be as hard

          • by sjbe (173966)

            so long as they are able to get a warrant that is in keeping with the 4th amendment.

            Oh I saw this and I agree with you but I simply don't think it is going to happen. What we have is a secret agency, conducting secret surveillance, "overseen" by a secret court, with secret findings that are never made public. There is at no step in the process any transparency or accountability to the electorate and I strongly doubt that is going to change in the near future. Congress is too concerned with getting re-elected to be willing to appear "soft on terrorism", the administration has no reason t

            • The court they have to go through has been shown to be a rubber stamp court and there is little evidence that AT&T/Verizon/etc are willing to put themselves on the line to protect their customers.

              Even so, it still means that the NSA doesn't just have it sitting on their servers where they can look up the data they promised they wouldn't. They need the approval of the rubber-stamp court, but at least this way they actually need that approval rather than just casually logging into their own servers. I'm not claiming it's sufficient reform, but it would be a meaningful reform. What has been disturbing about the Snowden revelations is not only that they're spying on us without oversight, but that it'

      • by bigpat (158134)

        I largely agree. Leaving the records in place with the business would be a huge difference and would address the primary constitutional problem with this program...

        except it appears that this is a sham proposal:

        1) The two hop provision would still cover a good portion of communications. Probably could cover 99% of all communications with some carefully selected "targets". So that is a non-starter.

        2) The government has always had legal authority to get a constitutionally valid warrant to seize business

    • by bigpat (158134)

      What this means in practice is that if you and I both call FedEx that is considered a "hop" and now our numbers are linked. They essentially can use any commonly called number to get to anyone else and you can cover a HUGE percentage of the population with a few common phone numbers. This is a "limitation" that really isn't a limitation.

      Yes, A warrant should be limited to all the records of calls a particular "target" is making and receiving. If these records indicate a pattern of activity then investigate who the person is communicating with and then get an additional warrant if necessary.

      Again we are talking about the US here, where the constitutional rule of law should apply.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:13AM (#46572729)

    I was in the US embassy a while ago to pick up a work visa.

    There was a quote from one of the founding fathers, John Adams;

    "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

    There is nothing safe about the Government having this power *because* it is the Government.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Another interesting fact about John Adams, a quote from the Treaty of Tripoli he signed: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion". Very few people know of this, personally I feel that this should be part of ever American History class in the US.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:14AM (#46572733)

    So, this new proposal changes where the records are stored, and not much else? The NSA can still get anything it wants with a warrant from a secret court, but now they won't have to go to the trouble of gathering the data directly.

    Plus there's the bit where this new proposal would codify the legality of what the NSA has been doing (and will continue to do).

    So about the only real functional change will be that the phone companies will be required to do the work for the NSA, plus the NSA will get a pass from the courts on the legality of the whole business, once it's declared legal by Congress.

    • by coofercat (719737)

      ...and all that spare compute/storage capacity they get by out-sourcing the data collection can be put to other "good" uses.

    • Congress appears to have declared it legal when they reauthorized the patriot act. Whether they want to admit it or not. All the statements to the contrary look to be members of congress trying to cover their asses now that the public knows and is upset. As far as I can tell nobody at the NSA is any kind of legal jeopardy over the current program. Presumably they might be subject to a challenge on fourth amendment grounds. This proposal might even be an attempt to head off that possibility.

      From the articl

    • Actually, it collects more data for them. Currently they only have data collection at most of the major Telcos. There are hundreds of smaller telcos in the country they likely have very little info on. This would require ALL data be collected and available via API to them. This will get them more data, quicker, at less cost and reduce and, more importantly make it totally legal. Win Win for the NSA.

    • I believe the big change is that there are individual orders required for each user.
      So if an over-reaching operator tries to collect data on his ex-gf / political opponent etc. there will be a paper trail. I don't think this will be an actual court order, it might be an administrative one, but it is still an improvement.
    • by bigpat (158134)

      Plus there's the bit where this new proposal would codify the legality of what the NSA has been doing (and will continue to do).

      This is what concerns me.

      Obama has all the authority he needs to end the bulk data collection programs right now by executive order, yet he is keeping the program(s?) active as leverage to get some further extension of the provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire in 2015.

      The most offensive Patriot Act provisions are set to expire in 2015 with no action by Congress. That is just next year. We can wait a year for the restoration of the rule of constitutional law and don't have to make this deal

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It limits the time, and forces the NSA to go through channels instead of keeping everything internal.
      It's a good balance, not grate, but good.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:14AM (#46572741) Homepage

    This proposal will get a lot of publicity.

    The "rejected" vote will come after the next elections and will be played down by the media...

    • by geekoid (135745)

      of course it will, becasue t will be shot down by the pubs. like these changes usually are. Of course they will lock it down and everyone will blame Obama and completely ignore the fact of who actual stopped the vote.

      The 'Stop everything and blame Obama' tactic is working wonders.

      • Why does Obama, the chief executive, need Congress to stop something happening in the executive branch?

        He has all the authority necessary to shut this program down, why isn't he?

        The simplest answer is that he doesn't want to shut it down, and instead wants to use it to score some cheap political points when Congress, shockingly, doesn't act. He gets to jump up and down and scream "Ohh the big bad repubs won't let me do my job - vote for my guys!" right before a midterm election.

        It's the most craven form of

  • Why all the focus on some archaic form of communication that's more a historical curiosity a few old people cling to than a relevant tool? I guess politicians are such old people? It'd be more interesting if they proposed a law to end bulk collection of Internet traffic.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      That's funny. I could have sworn one of the hottest technologies around was a thing called a "cellphone".

      I guess I must be old fashioned...

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        The issue they're describing is to do with voice call records.

      • by Tsingi (870990)
        Yes. It's a hot product because it does a lot more than make phone calls. It brings Internet communications to your shirt pocket.

        I rarely use mine for phone calls.

        • So you are one of those people (a not insignificant number) who find it an affront to actually speak to another person and instead chose to send some multiple of 10 text messages back and forth over an extended period of time to accomplish what would take 30 seconds by voice.

          How long before text messages too are viewed ask ickky?

          • by Tsingi (870990)
            Am I 'one of those people'?
            Our experiences differ. I prefer email. Text messages are for hooking up down town.
            Are you 'one of those people' who think that anyone who doesn't do things the way you do them is 'one of those people'?
            With a smart phone you can communicate how you like no matter which one of 'those people' you happen to be.
          • by geekoid (135745)

            Voice calls interrupt, Text allows time for a response.

            Or are you one of those people that demand everyone stop what they are doing so they can hold a 30 second conversation with you talking about what a few quick texts would get done?

          • by fuzznutz (789413)
            Amen Brother! My son (and others) will waste my time and distract my attention by texting constantly when a single 30 second phone call will do. When my son begins his text barrage, I try to intervene and make a voice call, but he will never answer. I just do not get it. And I can text with the best of them. I am as fast on the Google/swype keyboard as I am on a real one.
          • I prefer texting to talking especially at the beginning of dating someone. I can be pretty smooth when I'm able to write out my initial thoughts, then delete them before sending.

      • by mu51c10rd (187182)

        That's funny. I could have sworn one of the hottest technologies around was a thing called a "cellphone".

        Which, oddly enough, are mostly used to play social games, store apps, browse the internet, and check emails/texts. Notice phone plans went to unlimited voice when the shift from voice calls to data usage happened? I still use the phone...but I admit it is mostly work related now...and I am too old to be part of "generation Y". Voice calls are going to voip or being replaced with social media and text me

        • Once the full implementation of LTE is finished, all cellphone's that use this tech will be VOIP right from the towers.
    • by Agares (1890982)
      Considering most people use smart phones these days "phone records collection" I am sure can mean a lot of things. Not just who you call, but what is on your phone as well I reckon.
    • by tsqr (808554)

      Why all the focus on some archaic form of communication that's more a historical curiosity a few old people cling to than a relevant tool?

      Usage statistics [pewinternet.org] seem to say differently. The average adult (i.e., age 18 and over) cell phone owner makes or receives about 5 calls a day. People who send and receive lots of texts also make or receive a lot of phone calls. Cell phone ownership is heavily skewed toward the younger population, so it isn't a bunch of senior citizens making it look this way. With all due respect, perhaps you and your friends are outliers and a little out of touch with the real world.

    • by bigpat (158134)

      Why all the focus on some archaic form of communication that's more a historical curiosity a few old people cling to than a relevant tool? I guess politicians are such old people? It'd be more interesting if they proposed a law to end bulk collection of Internet traffic.

      Because the phone records program is not likely the only program, we haven't seen any confirmation that they are also collecting logs of Internet use and emails or text messages, but the same arguments (and legal precedent) apply to those "meta" records as apply to phone records. But it seems less threatening to people to talk about phone records than telling them that all your emails, text messages and Internet Activity are being monitored by the government also.

      The phone "meta" data debate has always ap

  • Bull fucking shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:27AM (#46572789)
    These people -- the NSA, the House and Senate Intelligence Panels, and the President himself -- have LIED to the American people and our supposed allies at every possible turn during this process. They would have never even admitted these programs existed at all -- it was only Snowden's actions that forced their hands. Why the hell would anyone ever believe them now? We're to believe they're going to simply stop doing this? Without any real oversight or transparency? The sad thing is that most of my countrymen are stupid or apathetic enough (or both) to believe them.
  • Phone companies need call detail records ("CDR"s) to do their billing, which happens monthly. After thgat they have no business need for the data, and retaining it has been an "attractive nuisance", and tempted governments into demanding they hand it over.

    The only good thing about this is the idea that, after getting a legal subpoena, the phone company will stream data about new calls. That's the valuable stuff when you're trying to catch a crook or spy, once you've identified them. Historical records

    • by davecb (6526)
      In the above title, I had said "> 30 days", but /. removed the greater-than symbol
    • Well, I hate the NSA... but you're wrong there. I work for a telco and am involved in Billing software. There's plenty of reason to keep data around for a while. Disputes, bankruptcies, etc... not everyone pays their bill every month you know. But keep in mind, the only records we keep on call data are calls that cost the customer or the company money. So collect calls... long distance... etc... Keep data on local calls? Yea right... that's not even possible given that most switches are leftover from the 70

      • Oops, you have older equipment than I have encountered! (My former landlady ran a crossbar switch, though (:-))

        Cell companies in Canada are required to keep all their call data records for some multi-month period: I tried to get one to throw CDRs for fixed-rate plans away, and they couldn't. The tried moving them to a different relation on the same array and still bogged the system badly. They finally pre-archived them to a different array and were then able to complete calls* during the billing period...

    • Phone companies need call detail records ("CDR"s) to do their billing, which happens monthly. After thgat they have no business need for the data, and retaining it has been an "attractive nuisance", and tempted governments into demanding they hand it over.

      They still need it for billing disputes and the like. And of course, if they're not doing "big data" analyses of their own for commercial purposes, they're a lot different than, say, Amazon.

      There is a significant advantage to having those records in phone company hands instead of government ones. If you have direct on-line access to data, any idle thought you might come up with is pretty much instantly exploitable. If the government has to go through a process - even a rubber-stamp FISA court - that reduce

      • by davecb (6526)
        The cell companies I know reduce them to statistical information as soon as they're allowed to.

        I entirely agree it's better the security services not have the data without a warrant, but I'd still prefer the phone companies obey the privacy laws in the first place, and not have motivated CSE, NSA and their friends to mandate their keeping it for even longer.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      ". After thgat[SIC] they have no business need for the data,"
      actually they do.
      People don't pay there bills? they need it. People refute their bill? they need it. Someone bring a law suite? they need it. Financial records? they need it.

      • by davecb (6526)

        Of course, but they keep everything for long periods of time, not just what they need. It's stupid, and causes them some horrendous capacity problems. I've been on several diagnosis gigs where telcos couldn't complete a month's billing in a month... which is known in the trade as "we're going out of business soon".

        To be fair, they're mandated to do so by the RCMP and CSE, who use them as an unpaid organizer for fishing expeditions.

  • Snowden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Major Blud (789630) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:53AM (#46572939) Homepage

    This begs the quesion......if Snowden hadn't released this info, would this "change" be taking place? I wish I could say that this was an admission from the White House that what he did was right, but we know that's not the truth.

    • It *raises* the question. "Begging the question" is different.

      Sorry. Otherwise you make an excellent point.

    • by spacepimp (664856)

      These changes are an admission that what the US Government is doing is wrong. The US Citizens are pissed enough off that the President is trying to change face. This is a strong signal considering that a few months back, he said that nothing was being done without his knowledge and that it was all good and necessary.

      That alone means that Snowdens revelations were shocking enough for PR stunts to be necessary. So yes, it means Snowden was correct. But I wouldn't hold my breath for a pardon.

    • by bigpat (158134)

      This begs the quesion......if Snowden hadn't released this info, would this "change" be taking place? I wish I could say that this was an admission from the White House that what he did was right, but we know that's not the truth.

      The most egregious Patriot Act provisions are going to expire in 2015 and they faced growing opposition even before Snowden. If anything this proposal is Obama merely being opportunistic and trying to trick the public into believing that this is a "reform" when it is actually just their attempt to extend the business records collection provision of the Patriot Act and deflect attention away from the constitutional violations of the Obama administration.

    • Is anything really changing? This strikes me more as mollifying.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Snowden filled in the gaps from the 1980's to say 200x about the ongoing world wide collection of data and vast domestic unconstitutional surveillance networks.
      Snowden showed generations of US political leaders where happy to go along with a vast domestic unconstitutional surveillance network.
      Snowden showed a lack of any US political legal oversight of a vast domestic unconstitutional surveillance network.
      Snowden showed corporate leaders in the US to be happy with a vast domestic unconstitutional surveil
  • >> planning to introduce a legislative package

    Since when did Obama think a lawful path through Congress was a good option? Wasn't he the guy who said he'd work around our elected representatives to mandate the important things on his agenda?

    Oh...I see. This is just a "planning to" press release. In other words, this is a BS trial balloon designed to get people off his back about the NSA without actually changing anything.

  • The NSA is part of the executive branch. President Obama could shut down the whole thing and fire everyone involved without needing to go through Congress. What he needs a law for is to find another way to do exactly what they're doing now.

    If you want me to actually believe that you're changing, just issue the shutdown order.

  • I think the Constitution must be respected! As it is now - far too much of it has been hijacked by the current AND previous government laws, we - the people, have certain inalienable rights. The government, the lawmakers serve the people - not the other way around.
    • by spacepimp (664856)

      Part of the problem is that the people are completely willing to give away those rights like scared sheep. Thankfully the Constitution prevents the people from signing those rights away, but that doesn't prevent the Government from letting them give away these liberties nonetheless.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        " Thankfully the Constitution prevents the people from signing those rights away"
        it does no such thing.

  • I'm sure the NSA fully plans to adhere to these laws with zero oversight and their own personal secret court they use to fly in the face of democracy. They have such a proven track record in the past of adhering to laws and privacy.
  • Till then... its just words.

    The government needs to understand that it did a bad thing. An act of contrition is required. Some symbol of their acceptance.

    Snowden would be a good example. They could do something else. But simply saying they're ending the program isn't enough.

  • So, alleged terrorist calls Pizza Hut. I call Pizza Hut. That makes me a legitimate target. Alleged terrorist calls AT&T. You call AT&T. Now you're a legitimate target. Real terrorist calls another real terrorist on a burner cell. Not a legitimate target. This isn't any kind of solution.

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