The New York Times reported late Monday that the plan would require the government to get authorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before accessing the data, which would be stored by private phone companies.
The government would need to specify which phone numbers they wanted data on and demonstrate to a judge a link to possible terror threats. The government could seek data on callers two “hops” removed from the initial number.
But the phone data would be kept in the possession of phone companies not the NSA or other government agencies.
Furthermore, according to the Times, the phone companies would only be required to keep the phone data for 18 months — the length of time they currently are required to do so.
The administration would reauthorize the NSA to continue collecting phone data for another 90 days until the new system is set into place, the Times reported.
The changes would be the most sweeping reforms to the NSA since leaker Edward Snowden's disclosures about the agency's surveillance of phone and internet communications.
The revelations sparked a firestorm of debate with civil libertarians calling for greater privacy protections. But many lawmakers warned that any reforms would need to be weighed carefully to avoid undercutting the nation's security.
Obama tapped an outside panel to review the NSA’s practices and in January unveiled a series of reforms, including secret-court approval of data requests and limits on surveillance of some foreign leaders.
The president also called on Attorney General Eric Holder to examine ways to store phone data outside of the government.
The Washington Post reported Monday that a bipartisan bill from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., that will likely be introduced Tuesday would also bar the federal government from collecting and storing some phone and internet data.
But the House bill could require phone companies to hold on to that data for longer than they currently do.