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Cell phone use drags down NSA collection of U.S. phone records: media report

English.news.cn   2014-02-08 02:53:16

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting less than 30 percent of Americans' phone records, a much smaller amount than 2006, because the agency could not keep up with the explosion in cell phone use, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The NSA collected nearly all records about Americans' phone calls from a number of U.S. companies, but the share had plunged to less than 30 percent by last summer, according to the report.

The drawdown reflects Americans' increasing turn away from the use of landlines to cell phones as well as technical challenges for the NSA to handle the large amounts of new records, reported the leading U.S. newspaper.

However, the U.S. government is now taking steps to restore the collection closer to previous levels, including preparing to seek court orders to compel wireless companies that currently do not hand over records to the government to do so, the newspaper quoted unidentified officials as saying.

From 2009 to 2012, the number of landlines in use in the U.S. fell 24 percent, while the number of cell phones in use jumped 28 percent, according to industry and government figures.

President Barack Obama unveiled last month his proposals to reform part of the NSA's controversial surveillance practices, seven months following leaks by formal defense contractor Edward Snowden that sparked controversy and furor around the world.

Obama directed the Justice Department and the intelligence community to develop options for a new approach of the domestic phone collection without the government holding the metadata. They are expected to report back to Obama before March 28.

Part of the president's proposed reforms will also require authorization by Congress. It is not clear what measures will finally be taken into effect in the coming months.

Editor: yan
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