Obama says government should stop collecting, holding bulk phone data

Photo provided by National Security Agency
Thursday, March 27, 2014 - 9:00am

The federal government must get out of the business of collecting bulk data about Americans' telephone calls, President Barack Obama said Thursday, saying the information should instead be held by phone carriers who would then provide the material to counterterrorism agencies.

The shift came after a program administered by the National Security Agency was revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden. The bulk collection of telephone records was criticized as a major breach of Americans' privacy, and Obama vowed to make changes to the program while maintaining the ability to keep the country safe from terrorist attacks.

"I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk," the President said in a written statement. "Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today."

A months-long review led to the decision, which Obama announced while on an overseas tour of Europe and Saudi Arabia.


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