Obama administration revises call data collection plans

The Obama administration has decided to rethink a proposal to employ a third-party, non-government entity to gather U.S. telephone call data currently collected by the National Security Agency, reports Reuters, citing unnamed security official sources.

During a speech he gave a year ago, President Barack Obama said that he would make changes in how the government handled phone records following the wake of information leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about how the agency collected and tracked Americans' phone activity.

A presidential review panel proposed that telephone call "metadata" generated inside the U.S., which the NSA started to collect after the Sept. 11 attacks, could be collected and retained by an outside source. Metadata includes the records of which telephone number calls another number, the time of the calls, and the duration of each call. It does not include the content of each call.

According to the Reuters report, the Obama administration came to the conclusion that using a private party to collect and retain telephone metadata is "unworkable for both legal and practical reasons."

One of the other proposals the administration is mulling is to have service providers like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) collect and retain telephone metadata.

Verizon was forced to give its daily call detail records to the NSA in an order issued shortly after the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. Later reports revealed that AT&T and Sprint (NYSE: S) were also part of the NSA's phone data collection probe.

An unnamed security official said that it would not cost the government a lot of money to require service providers to collect the data. The security official added that the administration has not made an official decision on data collection, but said the president's mission is to not have the government retain the data.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

Related articles:
Verizon Business forced to give call records to the NSA
AT&T, Sprint also part of NSA's phone data collection probe
Major websites to protest NSA surveillance on Independence Day