US regulator: collecting telephone metadata must stop

A US government privacy regulator says the bulk collection of phone call metadata must stop. According to the regulator, the program has limited value and there is no legal basis.

According to the US government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, there is no legal basis for collecting metadata from American phone calls on a large scale.

The US government invokes a provision from the Patriot Act to be able to collect that metadata, but according to the regulator, that provision does not allow this at all. This is stated by the regulator in a report that The New York Times holds and will be published later on Thursday.

In addition, the massive collection of that metadata is a “serious threat to privacy and civil liberties” and a violation of the US Constitution. In addition, the usefulness of the program is limited, according to the regulator. “We therefore advise the government to stop the program,” the report said.

Recently, Obama announced a number of changes to US government wiretapping in response to the outcry surrounding the NSA’s spying practices. This could make it more difficult for the intelligence services to request metadata. It is also the intention that this data is no longer stored with the government itself, but there is no question of the program being terminated. An independent think tank previously stated that the metadata program is of limited use.

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