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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs