WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records provides only minimal benefits to countering terrorism, is illegal and should end, a federal privacy watchdog said in a report to be released on Thursday, according to media reports.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent government agency, has shared its conclusions with President Barack Obama, according to reports in the New York Times and Washington Post. The board was not immediately available for comment.
Its conclusion goes further than Obama, who said in a speech on Friday that he thought the NSA’s database of records should be moved out of government hands but did not call for an outright halt to the program.
Members of Congress are divided about the value and legality of the program, which collects data on millions of phone calls made in the United States but not the content of the calls. The report could add ammunition to those lawmakers seeking an end to the program.
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