Senators Call For Mandatory Data Retention For Telcos Following The Section 215 Shutdown

from the quick,-before-the-Man-has-it-stuck-to-him-by-reprobate-corporate-giants! dept

Now that the NSA’s bulk phone metadata collection has actually ceased to exist (in this particular form, anyway…), low-level panic has begun to set in. With the NSA no longer able to obtain and store phone records in bulk, some legislators are now concerned telcos will use their control of these records to thwart the intelligence agency.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Angus King (I-Maine) on Thursday introduced a bill requiring telephone companies to notify the government if they plan on altering their policies for storing consumers’ phone data.


The new bill from King and Cotton would force companies to give the Justice Department at least 180 days notice if they plan to retain the call records for less than 18 months. The bill is called the Private Sector Call Record Retention Act.

“Our legislation would simply require that U.S. officials are provided with adequate warning if a company decides it no longer will hold these vital records, allowing time to ensure that we don’t lose a potentially valuable tool in the battle against terrorism,” King said in a statement.

This is Cotton’s baby. After all, he’s been trying to block the implementation of the USA Freedom Act’s surveillance reforms since the terrorist attacks in Paris, after months of being a vocal opponent of the legislation.

Critics of the new process — where the NSA takes its reasonable suspicion-supported court orders to telephone companies to obtain call data — somehow believe these companies, which historically have been enthusiastic enablers of dragnet surveillance, will suddenly decide to start deleting records just to screw with the government.

Beyond the fact that telcos tend to be proactive in their “assistance” of intelligence and law enforcement agencies is the fact that these companies have never before expressed a desire to hastily delete phone records. They’ve held onto them for indefinite periods of time — not out of deference to the NSA, FBI, et al, but because extended retention is obviously of some value to these companies. It makes no sense to assume they’ll suddenly alter their retention tactics just because they no longer need to produce all phone records in rolling three-month blocks.

That’s not the only ridiculous fear being voiced. The other asinine assertion is that the program is somehow integral to combating terrorism. Over the past couple of years, the debate has raged and supporters of the program have insisted the program has paid its debt to the Fourth Amendment several times over with all the terrorism it’s stopped… all without presenting any evidence that backs these statements up.

This sort of legislation does nothing but impose additional government requirements on data retention. This is no different than what was (temporarily) put in place in the UK — legislative demands for the onsite storage of records companies may not even need, simply because the government has decided it does. This isn’t an idea our legislators should be emulating, but unsurprisingly, the stoutest supporters of domestic surveillance are using a terrorist attack in another country to make a play for expanded government power.

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Comments on “Senators Call For Mandatory Data Retention For Telcos Following The Section 215 Shutdown”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Costructive Solutions

How about we get ourselves a Constitutional amendment that requires congress critters to follow all laws, forbids them to exempt themselves from anything, and requires them to turn themselves over to federal marshals for long term incarceration and loss of office immediately upon proposing or voting for any law that MIGHT be in conflict with the Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, or the remaining amendments of the constitution.

I have a fairly long list of reforms needed to correct some of our current issues, but this is a start. The problem is getting the current corrupt system to implement it.

Anonymous Coward says:

insisted the program has paid its debt to the Fourth Amendment several times over with all the terrorism it’s stopped

Even if they produced such evidence, that would not justify the program. A violation of the Fourth Amendment is not retroactively legalized because it happened to serve a law enforcement purpose (though some courts seem loathe to accept that).

Anonymous Coward says:

With the current business model of charging per minute or x minutes a month, the companies can’t delete this information.

If they don’t have it, they can’t validate their billing is correct and they can’t get paid. They don’t need to keep it forever, but realistically they need it for a minimum of 6 months and likely a year.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is it wrong to feel that the terrorists would actually make better senators?

The only good news to come out of any of this is the knowledge that every one of these slimy congress critters will someday be rotting in the ground and nothing but a footnote in history.

There were a lot of nasty people in the past who thought what they wanted was best and very few of them are even remembered.

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