President Obama to restructure NSA
13 January 2014, 10:03
US President Barack Obama is expected to announce changes to limit US spying on foreign leaders, but is unlikely to alter the controversial National Security Agency program collecting masses of raw data on the telephone calls of Americans.
Obama may extend privacy protections to cover non-Americans, after reports that the NSA was spying on civilians of friendly countries provoked outrage across the world. The president will also probably appoint a privacy advocate to argue in front of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves requests for surveillance.
He will also meet this week with members of the tech community that have been affected by the NSA's thirst for data. The NSA review panel convened by the President will also announce its findings this week.
The FISA courts have been at the center of the NSA debate as they are responsible for approving surveillance programs and since they also have a record of approving the mast majority of requests, introducing a privacy advocate to these hearings could help to minimize the amount of spying that goes on in the US and around the world.
Many of these changes may be coming as a result of President Obama's NSA review panel which is set to release its findings and suggestions this week. This panel was set up with the primary goal of identifying specific parts of the NSA that are overstepping boundaries, so that the President can implement the appropriate changes.
Obama and his aides have been focused behind the scenes this week on finishing a review of the spy programs and preparing for the president's address to the nation. Privacy and civil liberties activists, along with top executives of technology company, are calling on the president to adopt sweeping reforms to curb the NSA's collection of phone call metadata and personal information of online users.
US defense and intelligence agencies have argued that such information is necessary to keep the public safe. But a White House advisory board report issued in December found no evidence that such data had prevented any terrorist attacks.
All of these changes will be coming as a result of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has continued to leak classified US documents that have exposed a plethora of NSA spying programs which are questionable at best. Even though the US says that it protects whistleblowers, many people in the US government have continued to view Snowden as an enemy, forcing him to take refuge overseas.
Voice of Russia, theverge.com, itnews.com.au, The Washington Post
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