Surveillance

NSA Will Destroy Section 215 Records

By Cody M. Poplin
Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 1:37 PM

According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency will no longer access the historical metadata collected under Section 215 after the 180-day transition period authorized under the USA Freedom Act. The Agency will retain the information for three additional months (so, until sometime in late February 2016) to allow technical personel to evaluate the integrity of data from the new collection method, but it will be off limits for analytical purposes. Once the NSA is no longer under a legal obligation to preserve the data---one imposed as a consequence of ongoing litigation---the contents will be destroyed. 

Below is a statement by the ODNI on the retention of Section 215 telephoney metadata. 

On June 29, 2015, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the Government’s application to resume the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program pursuant to the USA FREEDOM Act’s 180-day transition provision. As part of our effort to transition to the new authority, we have evaluated whether NSA should maintain access to the historical metadata after the conclusion of that 180-day period.  

NSA has determined that analytic access to that historical metadata collected under Section 215 (any data collected before November 29, 2015) will cease on November 29, 2015.  However, solely for data integrity purposes to verify the records produced under the new targeted production authorized by the USA FREEDOM Act, NSA will allow technical personnel to continue to have access to the historical metadata for an additional three months.  

Separately, NSA remains under a continuing legal obligation to preserve its bulk 215 telephony metadata collection until civil litigation regarding the program is resolved, or the relevant courts relieve NSA of such obligations. The telephony metadata preserved solely because of preservation obligations in pending civil litigation will not be used or accessed for any other purpose, and, as soon as possible, NSA will destroy the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata upon expiration of its litigation preservation obligations.