NSA to shut down bulk phone surveillance program by Sunday

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The U.S. National Security Agency will end its daily vacuuming of millions of Americans' phone records by Sunday and replace the practice with more tightly targeted surveillance methods, the Obama administration said on Friday. As required by law, the NSA will end its wide-ranging surveillance program by 11:59 p.m. EST Saturday (4:59 a.m. GMT Sunday) and expects to have the new, scaled-back system in place by then, the White House said. The transition is a long-awaited victory for privacy advocates and tech companies wary of broad government surveillance at a time when national security concerns are heightened in the wake of the Paris attacks earlier this month. It comes two and a half years after the controversial program was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The move, mandated by a law passed six months ago, represents the greatest reduction of U.S. spying capabilities since they expanded dramatically after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Under the Freedom Act, the NSA and law enforcement agencies can no longer collect telephone calling records in bulk in an effort to sniff out suspicious activity. Such records, known as "metadata," reveal which numbers Americans are calling and what time they place those calls, but not the content of the conversations. Instead analysts must now get a court order to ask telecommunications companies like Verizon Communications to enable monitoring of call records of specific people or groups for up to six months. Read More: Reuters

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