From this morning, you can call freely to anyone, talk anything without any fear of being spied by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), as the agency is not allowed to collect bulk phone records.
Until now we all are aware of the NSA’s bulk phone surveillance program – thanks to former NSA employee Edward Snowden, who leaked the very first top secret documents of the agency in 2013.
However, more than two years later of the first revelation, that bulk phone surveillance program has finally come to an end.
End of Bulk Phone Surveillance Program
The White House announced Friday evening on the intelligence community’s official Tumblr that the NSA will officially be shutting down its bulk phone surveillance program by Sunday, November 29.
Under this program, the US intelligence agency collected only the “metadata” that reveals data related to the called phone numbers (i.e. which numbers are calling and what time they place those calls). However, no content of the mobile conversations were recorded by the agency.
“Beginning Sunday, November 29, the government is prohibited from collecting telephone metadata records in bulk under Section 215, including of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons,” the official announcement read.
The end of the vast surveillance program comes as a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress back in June.
NSA’s Bulk Metadata Collection is illegal
The bulk collection of metadata was ruled illegal by a court in May 2015. The USA Freedom Act ordered the spy agency to terminate collecting bulk phone metadata of U.S. Citizen, but the agency get the program extended until November 29 as a grace period.
The law put an end to the bulk phone data collection in an effort to sniff out suspicious activity. Instead, allow the agencies to request the records from telecom companies to enable monitoring of call records of specific people for up to 6 months if needed in terrorism investigations.
NSA to Request Records directs from the Telecoms
Now, the US spy agency is out of time, and the Obama administration says that it has a less invasive program ready to replace the old program.
So, from now on, the NSA will not be collecting your phone records in bulk – at least under the agencies laid out in Section 215 of the Patriot Act – and will have to request for data individually to telecommunication companies.