News / USA

Obama Considers Proposals to Change Surveillance

Obama Considers Proposals to Change Surveillancei
X
December 21, 2013 1:57 AM
Next month President Barack Obama is expected to change the way the United States collects information - domestic and foreign. A presidential advisory panel has submitted 46 broad recommendations. The National Security Agency has been under fire for what many say is excessive gathering of non-public information on Americans culled from phone calls and the Internet. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains the issues and what this might mean for non US citizens.

Obama Considers Proposals to Change Surveillance

Next month President Barack Obama is expected to change the way the United States collects information - domestic and foreign. A presidential advisory panel has submitted 46 broad recommendations. The National Security Agency has been under fire for what many say is excessive gathering of non-public information on Americans culled from phone calls and the Internet.

The recommendations are to reign in U.S. collection of what's called metadata, the phone logs of all Americans, so their privacy can be protected. The 300-page report urges a limit on the collection of these records because of a "a lurking danger of abuse." The National Security Agency's programs have grown since the terror attacks of September 2001, benefitting from advances in technology.

The panel suggests that private providers, not the NSA, store phone records.

Negroponte weighs in

John Negroponte, the country's first-ever director of national intelligence, said, "I think, whatever we do, the President needs to try and be sure we don’t undercut the effectiveness of this surveillance because we must not lose sight of the fact that it can be very useful and it has. These techniques have helped us avert terrorist attacks."

The presidential panel found that bulk phone records were helpful in stopping terror attacks, but the information could have been gained elsewhere. The report says the data was most helpful in disproving connections between known terrorist groups and alleged co-conspirators inside the U.S.

Obama said he will review the recommendations during his holiday vacation in Hawaii.

"Part of what’s been interesting is recognizing in a virtual world that just because we can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that we should,” he said.

The president is under no obligation to accept the entire report. He can choose which recommendations to implement -- some will need to be approved by Congress.

Amie Stepanovich, with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, calls the report surprising and a huge step forward. "Now we have to keep our eyes open and see if they are actually going to be put into place."

Recommendations made

The report suggests extending to foreigners the same federal privacy protections given to Americans.   

It also says the president and senior advisors - not intelligence officials - should approve any spying on foreign leaders, and that the benefits should be weighed against possible consequences. This is to avoid embarrassments like earlier this year with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when it was revealed the U.S. had tapped her cellphone.   

Negroponte said enough time has passed since 9/11 to look at narrowing surveillance. "This is the kind of consideration that has to be weighed - protection of privacy, diplomatic sensitivity versus effectiveness in combating terrorism. And there’s no question that there’s a sort of pendulum that's swinging here a bit toward the privacy and diplomatic side."

Just days before the release of the recommendations, a federal judge ruled that bulk collection of phone data is unconstitutional. Analysts think that new ruling, coupled with the surveillance report, will move the president and Congress to make substantial changes.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Harry Ball from: Arizona
December 20, 2013 11:28 PM
Obama lies in order to prevent sweep in 2014 election. Fixed your headline

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid