The Constitution Project Wants an End to NSA’s Metadata Collection Program
Jake Laperruque, a Senior Counsel at The Constitution Project, where works on issues of government surveillance, national security, and defending privacy rights told Wired that it’s time to end the National Security Agency’s metadata collection program, known as CDR.
According to the report, in 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act to reform Section 215 and prohibit the nationwide bulk collection of communications metadata, like who we make calls to and receive them from, when, and the call duration. The provision was replaced with a significantly slimmed-down call detail record program, known as CDR. Rather than collecting information in bulk, CDR collects communications metadata of surveillance targets as well as those of individuals up to two degrees of separation (commonly called “two hops”) from the surveillance target. But this newer system appears to be no more effective than its predecessor and is highly damaging to constitutional rights. Given this combination, it’s time for Congress to pull the plug and end the authority for the CDR program.
It’s unsurprising that just last week a bipartisan group in Congress introduced a bill to do so. Last month, the New York Times reported that a highly placed congressional staffer had stated that the CDR program has been out of operation for months, and several days later, NSA Director Paul Nakasone issued comments responding to questions about the Times story by saying the NSA was deliberating the future of the program. If accurate, this news is major but not shocking; this large-scale-collection program has been fraught with problems. Last year, the NSA announced that technical problems had caused it to collect information it wasn’t legally authorized to, and that in response, the agency had voluntarily deleted all the call detail records it had previously acquired through the CDR program — without even waiting for a court order or trying to save some of the data — indicating that the system was unwieldy and the data being collected was not important to the agency.