ODNI enlists telecoms to find metadata storage solution

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The Office of the Director of National Intelligence wants to gather industry input regarding how the government can continue to collect bulk telephone records metadata without actually storing the information.

ODNI issued a request for information on Feb. 5 that seeks suggestions on how to keep the telephone metadata accessible to the government under Section 215 of the Patriot Act without the use of government facilities to hold or maintain it.

In the RFI, ODNI states that responses will be "reviewed and may help to shape the framework for the future telephony metadata program to include the potential for non-government maintenance of that data," referencing several limitations on signals intelligence President Barack Obama issued Jan. 17.

The RFI is a direct response to one of the president's directives to develop "options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address without the government holding this metadata."

U.S. companies are asked to submit a two-page paper detailing commercially available capabilities that "could provide viable alternative approaches to the current Section 215 program without the government holding the metadata, while maintaining the current capabilities of that system and the existing protections for U.S. persons."

Possible approaches include:

  • Near-real-time access to data from the original source.
  • Correlation of data with varying provider data formats.
  • Simultaneous or near-simultaneous real-time access to data across multiple provider-stored datasets.
  • Secure storage of and access to U.S. telephone metadata records for a sufficient period of time.
  • Compliance with rigorous security and auditability standards to ensure that no queries take place without appropriate authorization and no data is provided to the government unless in response to an authorized query while maintaining 99.9 percent availability.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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