U.S. President Barack Obama says his proposed intelligence gathering reforms should give Americans more confidence that their privacy rights are being protected, even as the government maintains the tools it needs to protect the country.
The president commented as he outlined a series of changes to U.S. surveillance operations in the wake of privacy concerns.
In a Friday speech, Mr. Obama said he was tightening the guidelines for collecting phone call data as part of U.S. anti-terrorist efforts.
He said he would initiate judicial oversight on the government's collection of phone call records and restrict spying on foreign allies.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid hailed the proposed changes, saying they would "go a long way" towards balancing the needs of national security and personal liberty.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said Mr. Obama had "failed to adequately explain the necessity" of U.S. national security programs. In a Friday statement, he said the president should not allow "politics to cloud his judgment."
The changes in intelligence gathering were prompted by the massive leak of National Security Agency documents by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA says he stole 1.7 million documents before fleeing to Russia where he sought asylum.
Some of the documents showed the U.S. had listened to calls of foreign allies.
The U.S. has been unsuccessful in seeking Snowden's extradition to stand trial on espionage charges. He took the documents while working at an NSA outpost on the Pacific island state of Hawaii.