WASHINGTON, March 24 The White House is
preparing a proposal that would curb the bulk collection of
phone records by the National Security Agency, the New York
Times reported on Monday, citing administration officials.
Obama in January outlined a series of limited reforms to NSA
data-gathering, banning eavesdropping on the leaders of friendly
or allied nations and proposing some changes to how NSA treats
Americans' phone data.
The most sweeping program, collection of telephone
"metadata," comes up for reauthorization on Friday.
Obama had asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S.
intelligence community to report back to him before that
deadline on how to preserve the necessary capabilities of the
program, without the government holding the metadata.
The Times quoted officials as saying the administration had
decided to renew the current program for one more 90-day cycle.
But under Obama's legislative proposal, the government would no
longer systematically collect and store records of phone-call
data, but get orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court to obtain records of numbers that a judge determines are
tied to terrorism.
The call data would be kept with telephone companies that
would not be required to keep the information any longer tan
they normally do, the officials told the Times.
White House officials did not offer immediate comment.
The Times said the administration's proposal would also
include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the
Patriot Act, due to expire next year without congressional
authorization, "may in the future be legitimately interpreted as
allowing bulk phone data collection."
Metadata collection has been a heated issue since
disclosures last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of
widespread U.S. surveillance activities.
(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Eric Walsh)