President Barack Obama will announce steps that could transform the way the government keeps the vast amount of telephone data collected through its surveillance activities, NBC News has learned. The president is not expected to advocate where the metadata should be kept, only that the federal government should not hold it and that Congress be involved in the final decision.
Obama will also announce he is taking steps to modify the data collection program to require that a judicial process be required before the data is accessed.
The Friday announcement is part of a highly anticipated speech that comes months after one of the largest intelligence leaks in U.S. history shook national confidence in the federal government. In announcing come curbs to the controversial program, the president is striking a middle ground in a debate over privacy and security that has raged for much of the past year.
Both Democrats, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, and Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul, have proposed bills to put the National Security Agency on a tighter leash in the aftermath of the security breach perpetrated by an NSA contractor.
Among Edward Snowden’s disclosures were documents indicating that the NSA had a wide net capturing email address books and cell phone location records. Revelations also included that the U.S. was spying on German Chancellor Angel Merkel and other world leaders. The Snowden leaks sparked a furor in Congress, among U.S. technology firms, and among allies abroad.