President Barack Obama announced today that the U.S. government will no longer conduct mass collections of Americans' phone data and house the information inside the government, reports The Wall Street Journal.
This new directive will initially target a National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects data on nearly all U.S. phone calls. Now intelligence officials will have to get an order from a secret national security government court that deals with government searches of phone data.
"The reforms I'm proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law-enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe," Obama said in prepared remarks. "I recognize that there are additional issues that require further debate."
Obama's new rules come after Edward Snowden, a former government contractor, leaked information about U.S. spying activities.
However, a number of other surveillance practices such as mass data-collection programs that operate under the same authority as the NSA phone-data program will be allowed to continue.
Not everyone agrees with the president's plans.
"I am unwilling to sacrifice the privacy rights and civil liberties of Americans for the excessive collection of personal data," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., in a USA Today article.
Service providers have been particularly critical of the Obama administration's tactics. In December, representatives of AT&T (NYSE: T), Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and others met with Obama to discuss the phone collection data process following U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's move to issue an injunction against the NSA from collecting any cell phone metadata from Verizon.
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