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In sum, the program does not involve the NSA examining the phone records of ordinary Americans. Rather, it consolidates these records into a database that the government can query if it has a specific lead - phone records that the companies already retain for business purposes. The Review Group turned up no indication that this database has been intentionally abused. And I believe it is important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved.
Having said that, I believe critics are right to point out that without proper safeguards, this type of program could be used to yield more information about our private lives, and open the door to more intrusive, bulk collection programs. They also rightly point out that although the telephone bulk collection program was subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and has been reauthorized repeatedly by Congress, it has never been subject to vigorous public debate.