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He said some phone companies only store data for a year and a half or so, which could mean three and a half years of capability would be lost.

But Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, said that would be making the wrong statement in a bill designed to add more protections for Americans’ privacy. He said it would send the signal that the government still believes it has a right to the telephone metadata, even if it’s still held by private companies.

“It says they really ought to keep it — all this private data ought to be at the disposal of the government,” he said. “It goes against the spirit of what we’re trying to say, which is that the government doesn’t own all your private data.”