The National Security Agency has stopped a controversial domestic surveillance program, according to a senior congressional aide.
The program monitored the metadata of domestic calls in bulk (including dates, locations, times, and parties involved) in an effort to identify potential terrorist activity. While it was implemented by the Bush administration shortly after 9/11, the program continued collecting information over the next eight years, and was renewed by the Obama administration in a more limited form in 2015.
Privacy and civil rights advocates have been critical of the program since it was revealed in 2013 by Edward Snowden who leaked stolen NSA documents. Other criticism was directed at its effectiveness, since the agency has never offered any example of terrorist activity that was thwarted as a result of the program’s dragnet approach to data surveillance.
“In my view, the administration must permanently end the phone records program and Congress should refuse to reauthorize it later this year,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Senior Senate Intelligence Committee member.
Despite the controversy surrounding it, the closure here may be due to what NSA officials have termed “technical irregularities,” which refers to data collected that the agency lacked the legal authority to possess.
The decision to renew the program is up to the Trump administration, which has yet to comment on the matter.