The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved two proposals from President Obama to reform surveillance programs. The National Security Agency will now be allowed to query the telephony metadata it collects only following a court finding that reasonable, articulable suspicion exists that the telephone number is associated with an international terrorist group.
The National Security Agency’s capability to snoop on virtually all U.S. telecommunications has lost some of its punch. On Thursday, the Obama administration announced that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court(FISC) has approved two of the president’s proposed changes. In a speech on Jan. 17, President Obama ordered a restructuring of the NSA-run “bulk telephony metadata program,” which had scarfed up records about millions of U.S. phone calls. The intent, according to a statement issued Thursday by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, is to “establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk data.”