PRESIDENT Barack Obama on Friday proposed reforms of US surveillance programs in the wake of a public furor following revelations by former government contractor Edward Snowden.
Here are Obama’s key proposals:
Reform of telephone surveillance
Obama asked Congress to work with the White House to reform one of the most controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, which was passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks, that allows the government to collect records of telephone calls.
Obama insisted that the program, known as Section 215, was “an important tool in our effort to disrupt terrorist plots” but called for “additional safeguards” to address public concerns, including bringing more oversight and transparency.
The Justice Department, in a declassified paper that laid out its legal justification for the efforts, said that the program collects data about telephone calls—including time, numbers and duration—but does not record the conversations themselves.
Up to 22 officials at the National Security Agency are in charge of authorizing the data if an individual is suspected of “terrorist” ties, the statement said.
Obama called for Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret tribunal that approves government requests for surveillance behind closed doors.
Obama called for the court, which now only receives the government’s requests without a rebuttal, to start hearing opposing arguments as is customary in virtually all the US judicial system.
Along with declassifying the Justice Department legal statement, Obama said that the National Security Agency would put in place a “civil liberties and privacy officer” in charge of releasing more information.
Obama said that the US intelligence system would also set up a website to promote transparency about its work.
Obama said he was forming a group of outside experts to review US surveillance to study “how we can maintain the trust of the people” and to look at the effects on foreign policy.
Obama said the board would produce an interim report in 60 days and issue final findings by the end of the year. AFP