27 July 2015, ODNI: Statement by the ODNI on Retention of Data Collected Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act

15 July 2015, NYT: A.C.L.U. Asks Court to Stop Part of N.S.A.'s Bulk Phone Data Collection

1 July 2015, NYT: Surveillance Court Rules That N.S.A. Can Resume Bulk Data Collection

3 June 2015, NYT: U.S. Surveillance in Place Since 9/11 Is Sharply Limited

JULY 27, 2015

N.S.A. Will Not Be Allowed to Keep Old Phone Records


WASHINGTON -- Analysts at the National Security Agency will no longer be permitted to search a database holding five years of Americans' domestic calling records after Nov. 29, the Obama administration said [1] on Monday.

Legislation enacted in June barred the N.S.A. from collecting Americans' calling records after 180 days, but did not say what would happen to the data already gathered. Under a new system laid out by the USA Freedom Act, the government will not hold the bulk data, which is used to analyze links between callers in search of terrorism suspects.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to say whether the government would keep using the data collected under the old procedures or would purge it after the new system is in place.

On Monday, the intelligence office said in a statement that N.S.A. analysts would lose access to the old database after Nov. 29, but that N.S.A. technicians would still be able to view the historical records for an additional three months. That will allow them to compare the data to the calling records produced under the new system, the statement said. After those three months, that access will cease, too.

The N.S.A. said that it planned to then purge the records, but that it must wait for a resolution to lawsuits challenging the program. A court has ordered the N.S.A. to preserve records relevant to the litigation.

"The telephony metadata preserved solely because of preservation obligations in pending civil litigation will not be used or accessed for any other purpose, and, as soon as possible, N.S.A. will destroy" those records, the agency said.

After Congress enacted the Freedom Act, [2] the Obama administration gained approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to keep the old bulk phone records program going [3] during the transition. The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal appeals court to partially block the program, [4] but the court has not issued a ruling.

The intelligence court's rules have required the N.S.A. to purge the data after five years on a rolling basis. The bulk call-data program dates to October 2001, and was revealed in June 2013 in leaks by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.