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Freedom Act Sets Up Showdown Between NSA, Phone Companies

With the USA FREEDOM Act forcing the NSA to “rely on telephone companies to voluntarily retain” telephone “records and then turn them over on a case-by-case basis with court approval,” The Wall Street Journal looks at what might be the NSA’s next big battle: “whether the telephone companies cooperate with the NSA, or if the relationship will become combative.”  

“The law compels these companies to turn over telephone records of individuals, but only if there are records to turn over. In other words, the law doesn’t require the companies to keep records on anyone… The Federal Communications Commission requires telephone companies to retain telephone toll records for 18 months, and the companies must keep information showing the name, address and telephone number of the person originating the call as well as the phone number dialed, the time and the length of call.”  

“But phone contracts made under a flat-rate service offered by wireless carriers don’t follow the same standard, meaning investigators could have less access to call data. Even when companies retain the information, the NSA might not have access to two-year-old records.”

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