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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CottonOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions 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 McConnellTSA agents protest government shutdown at Pittsburgh airport The case for Russia sanctions Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE (R-Ky.) and presidential candidate Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees 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.