Yesterday, the NSA asked the surveillance court for permission to retain millions of phone records beyond the five-year limit currently imposed on the agency. The DOJ argued that they need to retain the data as “evidence” because of the privacy lawsuits filed after Edward Snowden revealed the administration’s digital dragnet.
Currently, the FISA court requires records to be destroyed after 5 years. The agency only collects phone numbers, call times, and duration of calls. They claim they do not have any contents of call conversations.
…the Justice Department said the government has a “duty to preserve” the phone records that overrides other obligations. The government said it would preserve the data in a format that prevents NSA analysts from accessing it.
“The United States must ensure that all potentially relevant evidence is retained,” the Justice Department wrote.
The ACLU responded to the government’s request to retain phone records. “This is just a distraction,” Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, said. “We don’t have any objection to the government deleting these records. While they’re at it, they should delete the whole database.”