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Senator Udall Backs President Obama's NSA Changes

U.S. Senate
Colorado Senator Mark Udall.

Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall is praising President Obama’s plan to end the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection of American’s phone records. The plan would keep phone records in the hands of private telephone companies and require a court order to access specific records.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Udall has been pushing for the end of bulk data collection since 2011. He has also been a proponent of more Congressional oversight of the U.S. intelligence community and to amend the Patriot Act.

“For years I’ve felt like I’ve been a voice in the wilderness pushing to end government surveillance overreach and protect our constitutional rights and the President’s proposal is proof that my lonely fight has finally delivered for Coloradans privacy,” Udall said.

The proposal issued by the President would end section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act which allowed the bulk collection of telephone data.

“We’re going to basically turn off the data vacuum cleaner that’s been sucking in the entire phone records of almost all Americans on a daily basis,” said Udall.

Any request for records would now have to be approved by a Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court, based on national security concerns. The court could be bypassed in an ‘emergency situation,’ however what type of situation that would entail was left undefined.

Credit youtube.com / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kXLMiHMwfI
In January, Senator Udall pressed intelligence officials for information about U.S. detention and interrogation programs.

“If it’s truly an emergency basis, I support that approach,” said Udall. “But on a routine basis, the government has to get court approval before they can conduct surveillance.”

Congress must approve legislation before the President’s proposal can go into effect, something Udall said will happen.

“There is very broad bipartisan support; I’ve been able to build a coalition that extends across the political spectrum,” Udall said. “We’re guarding American’s privacy here, at the same time finding a balance with our intelligence efforts so we keep our country safe.”

The current data collection program is up for reauthorization March 28, well before any new legislation to change the program can be passed by congress.

Citing security concerns, the President has asked the Justice Department to reauthorize the existing data collection program for 90-days, but with an added modification issued in January by the White House to safeguard privacy.

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