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U.S. special court renews NSA phone metadata program

U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the authority of National Security Agency to operate its controversial phone metadata collection program.

The U.S. government has filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court seeking to renew the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and the court renewed the authority on Friday, said Shawn Turner, spokesman of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in a statement.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence decided to declassify the FISA Court ruling in the light of the significant and continuing public interest in the phone metadata program, said Turner.

It is part of the Obama administration and intelligence community's efforts to defend the legality of such controversial surveillance programs that have been under fire following disclosures of former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

The Obama administration is carefully evaluating the recommendation of a presidential advisory group "regarding transitioning the program to one in which the data is held by telecommunications companies or a third party," said Turner.

President Barack Obama has pledged to announce a series of proposals to reform the NSA surveillance programs in January, after the advisory group brought up 46 recommendations of changes to those programs in December.

[Source: Xinhua, Washington, 03Jan14]

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