Obama Plans to Reform NSA Spying Programs and Increase Transparency

In his most direct response to NSA spying controversy yet, President Obama announced this afternoon that he’ll pursue reforms to the mass surveillance program in an effort to restore public trust, which has been dwindling as more details are leaked...

|
Aug 9 2013, 9:37pm

In his most direct response to NSA spying controversy yet, President Obama announced this afternoon that he’ll pursue reforms to the mass surveillance program, in an effort to restore public trust, which has been dwindling as more details are leaked about the government's widespread data collection.

”This program is an important tool in our effort to disrupt terrorist plots, but given the scale of those programs I understand the concerns of those who worry that it could be subject to abuse,” Obama said at a White House press conference. 

In addition to a four-point reform plan, the president ordered increased transparency about the NSA programs, starting with a website that will serve as a hub of information on the domestic surveillance programs.

Obama said he would work to tighten the provision of the Patriot Act, Section 215, that broadened the government's power to collect data from citizens' phone records, to provide “greater constraints on the use of this authority.” 

He also announced he plans to work with members of Congress on their proposals to take a closer look at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, namely to make sure the court is receiving a balanced argument on the constitutionality of the programs, and not only the government’s side of the story—a common criticism of the secret court. The plan is to appoint an "adversary" voice to advocate for privacy and civil rights protections during court hearings. 

In that vein, the president promised to release a 2011 FISA court ruling that found part of the NSA's dragnet spying unconstitutional—documents the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been tied up in lawsuits trying to obtain for years.

In the name of transparency, the NSA released documents to the public with details on the method and purpose of the metadata collection program—the most information revealed yet about the top-secret program. 

The documents explain the government’s legal basis for data collection, as authorized by the FISA court. A paper offers new information on the scope and scale of the metadata collection.

Read the rest over at Motherboard.