WASHINGTON - US counterterrorism officials will keep certain information about American citizens and legal residents for up to five years, rather than the previous six months, in a bid to do a better job tracking down terrorism suspects, according to new guidelines made public on Thursday.
The guidelines, approved by Attorney General Eric Holder, represent the latest step taken by the US government to try to improve its ability to guard against terrorism amid an ongoing debate over whether efforts to bolster American security are coming at a cost of individual rights and privacy.
The guidelines state that certain data "may be retained and continually assessed for a period of up to five years" by the US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to determine whether the data relates to a terrorism threat.
Previously, the National Counterterrorism Center was required to destroy information about US citizens or residents within 180 days unless a connection to terrorism was found.
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