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Obama to Propose End to NSA Bulk Phone Data Collection

The Obama administration is to propose a law banning the systematic collection of Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency.

The legislation would prevent the spy agency from bulk-harvesting calling records from phone companies. Instead, companies would keep the data and the NSA would have to request it using a new kind of court order, according to The New York Times.

President Barack Obama announced in January that he wanted to end intelligence-gathering practices that involved the government storing broad collections of phone and electronic communication data.

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The move is a political response to last year’s disclosures – based on information leaked by former defense contractor Edward Snowden – that the NSA was operating a clandestine program that collected vast amounts of data about the calling habits of private citizens.

A senior Obama administration official told NBC News that the ban on bulk data collection was the leading proposal under consideration, but it would still face a very tough vote in Congress.

The official said that the proposal was intended to satisfy some critics that the president has attempted impose limits on NSA surveillance while not compromising the effectiveness of the agency’s work.

The New York Times report said that a plan to make phone companies to keep calling records for longer than 18 months had been rejected as unworkable.

- Andrea Mitchell and Alastair Jamieson