News that the NSA collects bulk phone call metadata (phone numbers, call times and duration) from Verizon and other backbone providers initially leaked out in June. Since then PRISM, Edward Snowden and any number of other national security related topics have been in the spotlight, and the new focus has spurred at least one change in the process. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence publicly announced the request -- following other declassified documents about the program -- and that it has been renewed (again) by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. As The Hill mentions, the NSA claims its analysts are only able to search through the collected data if there is "reasonable, articulable suspicion" a phone number is connected to terrorist activity. With analysts still able to paw through tons of our data this doesn't quite feel like the transparency promised, but even this small admission that it's happening highlights how things have changed.
October 11, 2013
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves Government's Application to Renew Telephony Metadata Program
As indicated by a declassified court order and amended memorandum opinion published by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Sept. 17, 2013, the court authorization requiring the production of certain telephony metadata under the "business records" provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. Section 1861, expires Oct. 11, 2013.
Previously on several occasions, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority.
The administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order.
Director of Public Affairs
Office of the Director of National Intelligence