Congress moves to renew law allowing bulk telephone metadata collection

The measure, which immediately drew criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress, allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to essentially rubber-stamp government requests for so-called “business records” held by just about any institution, including the phone companies. Interpreted to require the telcos to cough up millions upon millions of calling records about their customers, it requires them to provide the National Security Agency with the phone numbers of both parties in a call, calling card numbers, the length and time of the calls, and the international mobile subscriber identity (ISMI) number for mobile callers. The NSA keeps a running database of that information, saying that it runs queries solely to combat terrorism.

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