NSA told to dump phone records by Obama review board: Sweeping reforms aimed at restoring public trust in US security agency

Currently, the NSA holds for five years phone records gathered daily from US phone companies

Washington

The White House has released the report of a surveillance review board that has recommended modifying the National Security Agency counter-terrorism programme that collects virtually all Americans’ phone records.

The recommendation that the NSA no longer keep the phone database – estimated by some former officials to contain more than 1 trillion records – is among a set of sweeping technical reforms aimed at restoring public confidence in the spying apparatus in the 308-page report.

President Obama met with the five-member Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies this morning.

Rather than the NSA, the phone companies or a third party would hold the phone records, said US officials briefed on the contents.

The report’s 46 recommendations also include barring the NSA from asking companies to build “back doors” into their software so that the government may gain access to encrypted communications. The NSA will thus be barred from undermining global encryption standards and prohibited from stockpiling “zero day” hacking tools that can be used to penetrate computer systems, and in some cases damage or destroy them, according to the individuals, who were not authorised to speak on the record.

The panel also suggested moving the NSA’s information assurance directorate, which is in charge of protecting classified government computer systems, to the defence department’s cyber policy office.

The idea would be to separate a clearly defensive mission from the offensive side of the NSA, which works to gain access to networks overseas for espionage, and which can be used to enable a military cyber attack on an adversary’s computer system.

In sum, the panel took aim at some of the most controversial practices of the 35,000-employee agency, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, which has been in the news since June when documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began appearing in the press.

Some US officials have said that the White House, which is free to accept, reject or modify the panel’s ideas, has indicated it is not likely to endorse substantive changes to the phone records programme.

But it is unclear what impact, if any, a recent decision by a federal judge that the collection is likely to be unconstitutional will have on the administration’s deliberations.

Currently, the NSA holds for five years phone records gathered daily from US phone companies. The records include the numbers dialled, and call times and durations, but no actual call content or subscriber names.

But US District Judge Richard Leon described on Monday the technology NSA uses to search its database as “almost Orwellian”, and civil liberties and conservative groups have sued to end the “bulk collection”.

© The Washington Post

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding business based in ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - Scotland

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales - Business Broker - North East Region

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As an award winning and leading...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas