Last year, after it was revealed that the
"Nobody is listening to your telephone calls," he said. As for the so-called metadata that was being vacuumed up and stored by the government — the source, destination and duration of calls — the president assured the nation that the program was free of abuses and subject to aggressive oversight.
But since then Obama has "evolved" in response to concern in
The new program would address the two most common demands of critics: that massive amounts of phone data not be stored for long periods of time by a government agency, and that investigators should not be able to decide for themselves when to search the "haystack" of metadata for the "needle" of telephone numbers possibly linked to terrorist plots.
Under the new arrangement, metadata would be maintained not by the government but by the telephone companies in a format that would make it easy for investigators to "query" or search it, and the database would include records from cellphones as well as land lines. The companies would preserve the records for 18 months, compared to the five years they were kept by the NSA. Finally, Congress would make permanent an interim arrangement under which the government has agreed to seek a court order for every query (except in an emergency).
These are significant reforms, but important details remain to be clarified. For example, the