NSA bulk collection of US phone metadata reportedly ending next Monday

NSA data center in Utah

The National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk phone metadata collection program should come to an end on June 1 at 5pm Eastern time as the Obama administration has reportedly decided not to ask a secret court for a 90-day extension of Section 215 in the Patriot Act, an administration official confirmed to The Guardian on Saturday.

The controversial program was established as an effective, secret means of siphoning user data, not just from carriers but also from major technology companies like Apple, AT&T, Google, Verizon, and Microsoft, with or without their willing participation.

As suggested in a memo it sent to Congress on Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by The Guardian, the NSA will be legally unable to collect US phone records en masse come June 1.

“We did not file an application for reauthorization,” an administration official confirmed to the newspaper on Saturday.

GOP leader Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans failed to pass a temporary extension of the provision, known as Section 215, which would retain all existing FBI under Section 215, as well as the NSA bulk phone records collection.

May 7, a federal appeals court ruled NSA’s bulk phone records collection illegal. The Senate reconvenes on May 31 after the Memorial Day holiday. The House of Representatives is due to return on June 1.

Curiously, a secret summit that was held in Oxfordshire, England earlier this month with high-ranking intelligence officials from the governments around the world discussed the security implications of government-sponsored data-collection programs.

According to The Intercept, which obtained a copy of the event program, former British MI6 Sir John Scarlett along with other current and former intelligence officials from the U.S., Australia, Canada and the EU, discussed “complex issues of international concern.”

Jane Horvath, Apple’s director of global privacy, along with security and privacy manager Erik Neuenschwander were in attendance, in addition to executives from Google and Vodafone.

Governments have been loathing Apple ever since last fall’s iOS 8 introduction brought high-security encryption to iOS devices that government spooks apparently cannot break.

“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in February.

He framed security as a basic human right.

“We all have a right to privacy,” he said. “We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”

According to the rumor-mill, iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 will introduce additional security and privacy related enhancements.

Among the rumored feature additions: re-architected stock apps with iCloud Drive file encryption, a major new initiative called Rootless to strengthen kernel security and a new feature called Trusted Wi-Fi to support a more heavily encrypted wireless connection for non-trusted routers.

Source: The Guardian