The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday approved the government's request to renew for another 90-day cycle the National Security Agency's program of collecting phone call data in bulk — the final time it will do so.
The move follows the unveiling Thursday of the Obama administration's plan to end the government's vast collection of data about phone calls made in the United States.
Under the plan, phone companies would have to provide data from their records quickly and in a usable format when requested by the government.
The plan would also allow the government to seek such data without a court order in a national security emergency.
But instead of telephone metadata being collected and stored in bulk from telephone companies by the NSA, the plan stipulates companies themselves would hold the data and be required to respond to specific, court-approved queries about it from the NSA.
The 90-day extension of the existing program was sought by the administration to give Congress time to act on the president's proposal.
The White House has not proposed changes in the equally controversial 702 program, which allows the government to acquire foreign intelligence by targeting non-U.S. persons “reasonably believed” to be outside U.S. borders.
—Andrea Mitchell, with Reuters
First published March 28 2014, 7:29 PM