US seeks information on industry ability to hold bulk phone data

The government is exploring third-party alternatives for holding the phone metadata

The U.S. government has asked industry for information on whether commercially available services can provide a viable alternative to the government holding bulk phone records for a program of the National Security Agency.

The government's collection of bulk phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act has been at the center of a privacy controversy since June last year when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the agency was collecting bulk telephony metadata in the U.S. from Verizon.

In a review of NSA surveillance last month, U.S. President Barack Obama called for a new approach on telephony metadata that will "establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata." Obama said that a third party holding all the data in a single, consolidated database would be essentially doing what is a government function, and may not increase public confidence that its privacy is being protected.

The RFI (request for information) by the government aims to get information on U.S. industry's commercially available capabilities, so that the government can investigate alternative approaches "without the government holding the metadata, while maintaining the current capabilities of that system and the existing protections for U.S. persons," the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday.

The RFI has been posted to the Federal Business Opportunities site that lists federal government procurement opportunities. The government is looking for information on whether commercially available services can, among other things, provide secure storage and high availability to U.S. telephone metadata records for a sufficient period of time, and ensure that there are no unauthorized queries of the database and no data is provided to the government without proper authorization.

In a related development, the government got approval from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to amend a Jan. 3 primary order on telephony metadata collection, James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence said in a statement. The motion and orders will be released to the public after a classification review scheduled for Feb. 17.

The focus of the new motion was on Obama's direction that, as a transitional move, the government should with work with FISC to ensure that the telephony metadata can be queried only after a judicial finding or if there is an emergency. Obama also directed that the government will pursue phone calls that are two-steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist group, instead of the three hops previously authorized.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags privacyregulationNational Security AgencyOffice of the Director of National Intelligence

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?