Senator Cotton Bill Would Stop Deletion Of Phone Data

Dec 2, 2015

File photo of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Credit Michael Hibblen/ KUAR

Arkansas's junior U.S. Senator says he is introducing a bill that would halt phone call meta-data from being deleted. Republican Senator Tom Cotton calls his bill the Liberty Through Strength Act II. It's his second attempt to introduce legislation to do away with limitations on data collection.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Cotton's bill would restore the National Security Agency's previous practice of collecting phone data. It does not. It would allow data collected while the practice was still an official policy to be kept for certain length of time.

A press release from Cotton's office says the bill "would stop the Obama administration from deleting all records of terrorist communications and make permanent congressional authorizations for counter terrorism tools that are vital to tracking and stopping attacks on Americans."


In effect, the bill would allow for phone data collected by the National Security Agency to be kept for five years and queried. Earlier this year, the NSA promised to delete its database of phone records. That decision was coincided with the passage of the USA Freedom Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in June. That law limited the National Security Agency's mass collection of Americans' phone data . It was inspired by revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and took effect earlier on December 1st. Cotton was the only member of Arkansas's congressional delegation to vote against the legislation.


His new bill would also make permanent some federal anti-terrorism legislation, which gave feds more authority in monitoring suspected terrorists. The press release outlined some of the bill's provisions:

-Require the federal government to hold on to the legacy 215 metadata for five years and authorize its use for queries.

-Makes permanent the USA PATRIOT Act's "Roving Wiretap” provisions.

-Makes permanent the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act (IRTPA “Lone Wolf" provisions.

-Makes Title VII of FISA permanent.

-Clarifies the FBI’s authority to obtain electronic communications transactional records (ECTR) under Title 18 of the US Criminal Code.