Obama's Changes to Phone Metadata Collection Gets Nod From Secret Intelligence Court

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

NSA will have to go before a judge and present evidence before collecting the data.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court announced today that it has approved President Obama's request to change to the NSA's section 215 metadata collection program.

Obama did not choose to end the controversial metadata collection program outright -- as his own review panel suggested -- but rather to employ a few safeguards to prevent data that was not part of a terrorist investigation from being accessed, like spying on loved ones

The metadata is still being collected, but the NSA will have to go before a judge and present evidence that "there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the selection term is associated with an approved international terrorist organization" before querying it. Also, phone calls have to be two steps removed from a suspected terrorist rather than three.

It may not be the progress many privacy advocates (and, again, Obama's own panel) hoped for, but it's something.