Former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander defended the NSA's bulk collection to John Oliver by saying that all his former employers did was collect metadata. He defined that as "two phone numbers, date, time and duration of [the] call." The agency's rules for collecting our electronic communications were similarly stringent, with the government only permitted to store the "to" and "from" fields, as well as the time any private message was sent. Unfortunately,
newly-declassified documents have shown that the agency had difficulty just collecting those pieces of information, and instead stored the full texts of e-mails and other messages sent online. According to the report, the NSA had "exceeded the scope of authorized acquisition continuously during the more than [REDACTED] years of acquisition."