The federal government's collection of bulk data from the telephone calls of virtually every American will stop at midnight Saturday, ending a raging controversy that began with disclosures about the secret program by Edward Snowden.
Beginning Sunday, if the government wants to check on a specific phone number in a potential terrorism case, a request must be made to the relevant telephone company for a check of its own data. The government will no longer retain the information.
President Obama said in January that the bulk data collection would end, and Congress in June formally banned it but allowed for a six-month transition period that ends Saturday.
Under the revision, the government will present a specific phone number or cell phone identifier to the phone companies to seek the relevant call data. Except in emergencies, the records can be obtained only with an individual order from a special federal intelligence court.
For now, the National Security Agency, which ran the massive government data collection program, will retain access to the data it collected before the program was ended.
The NSA says it will check that database only to test the new program and to conform to court orders in civil cases challenging the program's constitutionality.
Testing, testing, one, two, three hundred million.....
So they are going to keep into perpetuity the data they have already illegally swept up and these "requests" will fall under the Rubber Stamp of the already oh so helpful FISA court. Expect the acceptance rate to be 100% and automatic.
The spooks at the NSA have probably already figured away around any attempts to reign in this illegal bullshit anyways as they have had six months to do so.
But hey, I feel safer knowing that every time I text my wife about some stupid day to day thing that the NSA considers it to be of utmost importance to National Security that they know who I contacted and for how long.
Maybe I should just put them on Speed Dial for the next time I need to ask if there is anything she needs from the store on my way home from work.