US President Proposes Curbing Spy Agencies Tapping of Telecoms Networks
Published on: 26th Mar 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
The US spy agency at the centre of the growing telephone hacking scandal is set to have its powers to tap into phone lines curbed but probably only when tapping American phone lines.
US President Obama is set to ask the US Congress to order the NSA to stop its systemic sweeping of telecoms networks for information.
Under the new plans, the telecoms networks would still have to retain the information, and then pass it to the NSA on a per request basis. They would not however need to hold data for longer than they already do, so avoiding the issue of telecoms networks demanding compensation for data storage upgrades.
The US Justice Department is working with the spy agencies to flesh out the proposals, which are due to be announced later this week.
Under the new proposal, officials say surveillance "would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received".
However, the plans only appear to affect surveilance of Americans while on US soil. They do nothing to address the wider concerns that the NSA has been routinely hacking into overseas telecoms networks, or deliberately inserting back-doors into telecoms equipment for it to exploit later.
For all the fuss within the USA, it is these unresolved issues that will decide if the damaged reputation of the US spy agencies will be repaired.