President Obama has his work cut out for him as he tries to restore faith in the US government following the whole NSA spying scandal. He first talked of surveillance reform last year, then in a January 2014 speech promised to revamp the NSA's program for collecting phone records. While the agency must now seek court approval to access phone data, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that "administration lawyers" have finished drafting several proposals that would bring about more radical changes to the program by taking the database out of the NSA's hands. These are said to be part of a wider report due in March, in which other scenarios that strip some power from the government spy agency will be explored.
One of the proposals would see phone companies responsible for managing the records, which the NSA would then request on a case-by-case basis. Apparently the idea hasn't gone down too well, with companies wary of being inundated with data requests from elsewhere; not to mention they haven't been involved in crafting the proposals. (Besides, do you trust AT&T and Verizon anymore than the government?) Another idea would see a different government entity such as the FBI (which is allegedly a contender, despite its own indiscretions) or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court be put in charge. It's also been suggested a new independent organization be created that would technically be neither a part of the government nor a phone company. Though, the concern there is any newly created body would ultimately end up serving as an extension of the NSA.
Of course, there's always the last option of doing away with the phone surveillance altogether, which we're sure many would celebrate, but seems highly unlikely. There's always the possibility that another solution is agreed upon, but for now these seem to be the primary options available to the Commander in Chief.