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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs