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Md. Congressman Wants To Make It Harder For NSA To Monitor Phone Calls

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Some want to make it harder for the NSA to monitor our phone calls. That’s the proposal being pushed by a Maryland congressman.

Alex DeMetrick reports what makes the idea unique is how high Dutch Ruppersberger is within the intelligence community.

It wasn’t just the revelation the NSA was tracking the millions of phone calls Americans make every day, it was the secret spilled by former employee Edward Snowden that those calls were being stored by the government.

“The biggest constitutional problem is the collection of all this data based on nothing,” said Dr. Michael Greenberger, University of Maryland Center for Homeland Security.

“The best defense against terrorism is intelligence,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, (D) Maryland.

As the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Ruppersberger backs surveillance. But he is now against the government holding onto vast quantities of raw data, and is pushing legislation that would keep it in the hands of phone companies.

It would still be available for investigation, but only if a lead justifies it.

“We would go with a subpoena, the FBI, to the phone companies. The phone companies would then give the relevant information that was necessary,” Ruppersberger said.

“And it’s very important because it’s coming from Congressman Ruppersberger,” Greenberger said. “We move from getting everybody’s information for no reason, to getting a small fraction of that information for a darn good reason.”

But on Capitol Hill, going from a proposal to a law can be a big jump.

“Hopefully Chairman Rogers, my counterpart on the committee, we can come together and we will have legislation that clearly does away with bulk collection of metadata by the intelligence community, specifically the NSA,” Ruppersberger said.

Ruppersberger says he is pushing for this change, not because he knows of any wrongdoing by the NSA, but because public perception has elevated concerns about mass data collections.

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