Four months after the White House's review panel suggested similar changes, President Obama is finally ready to abandon the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records. According to the White House's proposal, the records would stay with the phone companies for just 18 months; in order to access the data, the NSA would need to convince a judge in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the information was pertinent to a specific investigation. As it the law is now, the NSA collects the records in bulk from the companies and stores them for five years.
The Guardian has obtained top secret documents from Edward Snowden that show that both the NSA and GCHQ (its UK equivalent) have been developing the ability to siphon personal information from "leaky" smartphone apps such as Google Maps and Angry Birds. In one document, the agency lays out the "perfect scenario" of the type of info it can obtain when a photo taken with a smartphone is uploaded to a social media site.