Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE: The National Security Agency is scheduled to end its dragnet collection of records about Americans’ phone calls Saturday night — the most significant change in U.S. intelligence-gathering since Edward Snowden revealed details of the agency’s programs two years ago.

Under the Patriot Act approved by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NSA had been permitted to gather records about calls and hunt through them to discover connections to al-Qaida and other groups.

The legal authority for that system expires Saturday. Under a new law, the agency must ask phone companies for records on a case-by-case basis. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday that the new program limits the data collected to “the greatest extent reasonably practicable.”

The end of the program is a victory for Snowden, a former NSA contractor, and his supporters, who say that the NSA has too much power to gather data on the everyday lives of Americans. While the documents he released to reporters pushed the government to evaluate its approach to spying, they are now more than two years old, and there are already signs the NSA has changed its methods.