The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has granted the National Security Agency (NSA) permission to continue its collection of records on all U.S. phone calls.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced the court’s approval in a statement late Friday. The court authorizes the program for only limited time periods and requires that the government submit new requests every several months for re-authorization.
The existence of the bulk phone data collection was one of the most controversial revelations from the leaks by Edward Snowden.
The NSA uses the program to collect records such as phone numbers, call times and call durations on all U.S. phone calls—but not the contents of any conversations, according to the administration.
The NSA collects the records from the phone companies and compiles them in a massive database. NSA analysts are only allowed to search the database if there is a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a phone number is connected to terrorism.
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