This is a victory for Edward Snowden, who had revealed the extent of the supervisory powers of the all powerful US intelligence agency NSA since Sunday, the agency no longer stores the data related to phone calls of Americans.
The revelation in June 2013 by Edward Snowden that metadata (time, duration, numbers called) calls were kept in the giant computers of the NSA had provoked stupor and indignation among many Americans, worried about this intrusion in their private life.
Last June, Congress passed a law ending the collection and introducing a new system that allows the intelligence agency continue to access if necessary to the Americans call data with a strengthened legal control.
If it no longer has its own data, the NSA may, however, require them to telephone companies.
“This is not the end of the world” for the NSA, said to AFP Stewart Baker, an expert on cyber security issues and electronic surveillance lawyer who has fought many web against Edward Snowden and the NSA .
The NSA will always have access to data on telephone calls of a suspect and the related this suspect. But this research will be less “efficient” and “take more time,” he says.
Instead of drawing in a single database, NSA must “move from a database to another,” according to the telephone companies.
Indeed, few would today lament the end of this program, became one of the symbols of the excessive powers of the NSA, while it has never convinced of its effectiveness.
After the attacks in Paris, Republican Senator Tom Cotton, supported in particular by the Republican candidate for the White House Marco Rubio, tried unsuccessfully at the last moment to challenge the law passed in June.
But the attempt failed. “We are proud to have played a role” in the new system in place, stressed in a joint statement Monday four Democrats and Republican representatives who participated in the drafting of the reform, the Republican co-author of the Reform, Jim Sensenbrenner.
Reform “improves the protection of civil liberties (…) and provides for national security agencies targeted tools to protect America,” they stressed.
“Far from being completed”
For civil rights organizations, the battle against the intrusion of security services in people’s lives, but is not complete.
“The work is really far from over if we want to be sure that our data is not collected in violation of the Constitution,” said AFP Neema Singh Giuliani, the ACLU (American Association for the Defence of civil Liberties).
The associations will notably in the sights the other big controversial NSA program denounced by Snowden, Prism: communications interceptions conducted with US giants like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google or Facebook.
This program is based on a law that expires in 2017.
“This is one of the main supports for the mass surveillance of electronic communications,” says the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a powerful Californian association defending the rights of Internet users.
Although the removal of the collection of metadata is a form of recognition of the validity of the alarm cry of Edward Snowden, one refugee in Russia is not ready to get much leniency in his country native.
After the attacks of Paris, the CIA Director John Brennan has again lambasted the former consultant of the NSA.
“I find it unbelievable” “making heroes” of people who “defiled their oath” to protect their country, he said.
The White House has opposed this was a late bar to 167,954 petitioners requesting an unconditional pardon for Edward Snowden, saying it would “return to the United States to be tried by his peers.”
And Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president in 2016, has not shown more encouraging. He “flew very important information which unfortunately fell into the wrong hands a lot,” she had said in October, saying that Snowden “must face the consequences” of his acts.