Emergency provision still enables spy agencies to collect specific records without court approval
Federal spy agencies no long have the legal authority to gather bulk communications records. Instead, the National Security Agency will have to obtain a court order to obtain specific data, as outlined by President Barack Obama in March 2014.
Obama said the data should remain with communications companies, with a legal mechanism in place that would allow the government to obtain data pursuant to individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — to ensure that the data collection is “appropriately focused and targeted,” according to top spy officials.
That approach was subsequently codified in the FREEDOM Act, passed by Congress in 2015. An emergency provision enables intelligence agencies to access some data under authorization by the Attorney General of the U.S., with follow-up approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Continue reading