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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid