U.S. intelligence officials disclosed late Friday that the Obama administration has received approval from a special federal court to continue the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata for another three months.
Both the administration’s request and the court’s permission had been expected.
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In Senate is considering a bill, passed by the House in May, that would stop the NSA from collecting the data. Under the legislation, the phone companies would retain the data, and the NSA would face new legal requirements to gain access to it.
Until Congress acts, the government will keep the current NSA program going, according to statement from the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
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"Given that legislation has not yet been enacted, and given the importance of maintaining the capabilities of the Section 215 telephony metadata program, the government has sought a 90-day reauthorization of the existing program, as modified by the changes the president announced earlier this year," it said.
The government's application to renew the program was approved Thursday by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and expires Sept. 12.
-- Pete Williams