NSA bulk phone surveillance program shutting down Sunday

NSA bulk phone surveillance program shutting down Sunday

The National Security Agency will no longer be allowed to collect phone metadata in bulk beginning Sunday, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The controversial surveillance program was shut down under the USA Freedom Act, signed by President Obama in early June, and has been in a six-month transition period that ends Nov. 29.

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Beginning Sunday, authorities may only obtain the records of a person or device that is “specifically identified” in connection with a terrorist or criminal threat. Under the USA Freedom Act, the surveillance must be done in such a way that it “limits the scope of information sought to the greatest extent reasonably practicable.”

Some Republican lawmakers tried to delay the termination of the metadata program, originally authorized under the post-9/11 Patriot Act, in response to the deadly terrorist attacks on Paris this month.

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonLawmakers spar over surveillance flight treaty with Russia GOP senator introduces bill to limit flow of US data to China Tom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas MORE (R-Ark.)’s Liberty Through Strength Act would have delayed the Sunday deadline for more than a year, as well as make permanent several other Patriot Act provisions.

"If we take anything from the Paris attacks, it should be that vigilance and safety go hand-in-hand,” Cotton said in a statement. “Now is not the time to sacrifice our national security for political talking points.

“We should allow the intelligence community to do their job and provide them with the tools they need to keep us safe.”

The legislation had the backing of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Fireworks on health care expected at Dem debate | Trump FDA pick dodges on vaping ban | Trump to host meeting on youth vaping Friday | AMA calls for immediate vaping ban GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act On The Money: Senate scraps plan to force second shutdown vote | Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny | McConnell rips House Dems for holding up trade deal MORE (R-Ky.) and presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate passes legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action McConnell urges Trump to voice support for Hong Kong protesters MORE (R-Fla.), but withered in the face of support for NSA reform from both the White House and both sides of the Congressional aisle.

“With the transition period ending, the Intelligence Community has fulfilled an important Presidential commitment that allows national security professionals to retain the capabilities necessary to continue protecting the country, while strengthening the civil liberties protections that the American people cherish,” the ODNI said in a statement Friday.