The Obama administration laid out a new set of surveillance rules Thursday that would transfer the storage of millions of telephone records from the government to private phone companies.
The plan, developed in response to protests about the reach of National Security Agency surveillance tactics, requires a sign-off from Congress.
"Having carefully considered the available options, I have decided that the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk," Obama said in a statement. "Instead, the data should remain at the telephone companies for the length of time it currently does today."
Obama pledged to work with Congress on developing a workable plan.
"I believe this approach will best ensure that we have the information we need to meet our intelligence needs while enhancing public confidence in the manner in which the information is collected and held," Obama said.
Earlier this week, Obama said the new plan would end the government control of bulk data but preserve the ability of agencies to conduct conduct counter-terrorism investigations.
"Overall, I am confident that it allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal with the dangers from the terrorist attack, but does so in a way that addresses some of the concerns that people had raised," Obama said while traveling in Europe.
Government officials could still access the phone data with court approval, according to the plan.
The House Intelligence Committee issued a plan this week that would also transfer storage authority to phone companies but allow the government to access without prior court approval. A judge would review the government's request after agents obtained the data, a provision that has drawn objections from civil libertarians.
The idea of ending government storage of metadata appears to have bipartisan support.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the Intelligence Committee's bill starts "a bipartisan conversation" about surveillance programs, and he added that "I expect the part of this effort will include the end of the government holding on to bulk data."
NSA surveillance techniques became public last year with leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden.
Snowden, now living in Russia while facing charges, praised Obama's efforts earlier this week.
"This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public's seat at the table of government," Snowden said in a statement released by the ACLU, which is helping with his legal representation.