Plans would end bulk NSA phone data collection, say officials

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The Obama administration is preparing legislation that would end the National Security Agency's widespread collection of Americans' phone data while, officials say, preserving the government's ability to gain information about terrorists.

The legislation, senior officials say, would allow the data -- phone numbers, times and dates for calls made to and from Americans -- to be kept at the phone companies, which would not be required to hold the data longer than they normally would.

The administration faces a Friday deadline set by President Barack Obama in January, when he directed subordinates to find a way to end the government's mass collection of phone data, a program that has stirred controversy since it was revealed through a leak to the news media last June. Officials said the administration has decided to renew the current program for at least one more 90-day cycle. The current orders expire Friday.

The proposal would require phone companies to provide data about suspected terrorist numbers under a court order, officials said. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the program, would have to approve each number.

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The administration effort comes as the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee have drafted a bipartisan bill that would end the NSA's mass gathering of phone and Internet data. Their measure, to be introduced Tuesday, also would keep the records at the phone companies.

-- The Washington Post

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