The NSA's bulk collection of metadata ends today
Controversial program outed by Edward Snowden to be replaced with less invasive policy
The United States National Security Agency will cease the bulk collection of phone data from American citizens today, replacing its program with a less invasive one, the White House said over the weekend.
The controversial program, which saw the NSA conduct surveillance on millions of devices to glean information from metadata, was revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who still lives in exile from the US following the leak.
Since then, documents leaked by Snowden have shown the extent to which American authorities have gone in order to monitor digital communications. With these revelations, the American public have become more and more wary of its security agencies' activities, and politicians have taken steps to curb their powers.
Six months ago, President Barack Obama passed the Freedom Act, which strips the NSA of its bulk-collection powers. Seen as a victory for privacy advocates, the act comes into place today, and it will force cyber-spies to gain court orders to allow them monitor individuals or groups. Following a court approval, telecoms providers will allow the NSA to monitor call records for periods up to six months.
Reuters quoted National Security Council spokesman Ned Price as saying that the new act was a "reasonable compromise" between the security agencies and privacy advocates.
That said, some American politicians do want the NSA to continue in the same way as before, but further reform is unlikely before the 2016 presidential elections.
As for the data that the NSA has already bulk-collected, the White House said that it will purge its historic records after February 29, for "data integrity" purposes.