NSA starts winding up its phone tracking program after Senate vote

NSA starts dismantling its massive phone tracking program after the senate fails to re-authorise it

Just hours after the United States Senate blocked the National Security Agency (NSA)’s  program of bulk collection of U.S. telephone records it has started to dismantle the program that has been under criticism from pro privacy groups and freedom activists.

The US Senate had failed to reach any deal to reform or re-authorise the program after it expires on 31st May, 2015. Though the matter is still not resolved and the lawmakers vowed to revisit the issue.

The NSA’s phone tracking program is so massive that administration officials said they had to start the lengthy procedure of winding down the counter-terrorism program in anticipation of Congress failing to act.

“That process has begun,” an administration official said Saturday.

Taking Senate’s non approval for the phone tracking program seriously, the intelligence officials warned of a precipitous gap in data collected if the Senate does not approve the program or comes up with alternate plan before May 31.

The NSA’s phone tracking program caught the public eye after ex-NSA contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden in leaked documents in June 2013 which showed that the US government through NSA, tracking and collecting phone data of millions of phone users including US citizens.

The data include the number dialed, duration, date and time for most telephone calls made by US citizens raising eyebrows even in the most conservative of Americans.

Opponents of the program, including presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), said that they were concerned that the massive database could invite abuse by future administrations that want to find out how citizens are connected to one another, stifle dissent or crack down on political enemies.

“The Bill of Rights is worth losing sleep over,” Paul wrote on Twitter on Friday night after he sent the Senate into overdrive by running the clock on procedural steps. “Continuing to filibuster against NSA bulk surveillance.”

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