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Obama-appointed panel says NSA should stop storing citizens' phone records

HTC phone
Who will store your phone records?

Lay off my phone records, man.

That language never appeared in its 308-page report to the president we're sure, but an Obama-appointed panel has recommended the NSA cease storing Americans' phone records.

Instead, the advisory panel recommended a private third-party or phone companies keep information such as numbers dialed, call times and durations culled from nearly every US citizen.

In other words, collection wouldn't stop, just the NSA's storage of the records that reportedly number more than one trillion. The agency or other party would need a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order to access the data, and every phone number the NSA wanted to examine further would need one as well.

Phone companies wouldn't have to change how long they currently store phone records, according to the panel. Storage times range from six months at Cricket to 10 years over at T-Mobile. The NSA currently stores records, snapped up from phone companies themselves, for five years.

Panel politics

The Obama Administration has said it will formally announce in January which of the panel's 46 recommendations in all it plans to adopt.

The recommendations range from the NSA ceasing to undermine international security standards with encryption workarounds and hacks to prohibiting so called "back doors" into firms like Google and Yahoo that store user info.

The group also called for greater transparency, i.e. more public disclosure, and opening the NSA director position to civilians. The job, the panel said, should be vetted and confirmed by the Senate.

The panel's full report can be read here (PDF), and while there's a chance the White House will modify or nix many of the panel's recommendations all together, it's encouraging these changes are at least being publicly aired out.

Via The Washington Post, TechCrunch