The NSA is Killing its Metadata Snooping Programme This Weekend

By Kate Knibbs on at

The National Security Agency is finally shutting down one of its spying programmes this weekend. I do not recommend screaming I LOVE ISIS JIHAD into your phone to celebrate.

The USA Freedom Act, a bill that eliminated the NSA’s bulk phone metadata collection, passed Congress in June, but the programme kept going during a 180-day transition period. That period is set to end at 11:59 pm on tonight (that's 5am GMT). I realise the Saturday-at-midnight time slot really ups the chances that you’ll try to yell I LOVE ISIS JIHAD to celebrate but, again, nah.

Under the new system, NSA analysts and other law enforcement will have to get a court order for the phone records of people deemed suspicious. Like people who yell I LOVE ISIS JIHAD all the time, probably.

The NSA isn’t immediately deleting all its data. From Reuters:

Metadata collected by the NSA over the past five years will be preserved for “data integrity purposes” through February 29, the White House said.

After that the NSA will purge all of its historic records once pending litigation is resolved.

While the end of this bulk snooping program is good news, it’s an incremental reform, a change that took the government years and public outcry about illegal surveillance to make—and a change it made as minimally as it could.


Image via AP

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