US President Barack Obama will announce his highly anticipated plans for NSA reforms on January 17, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the report, the President will likely call for a mix of executive actions and measures that would require congressional approval.
The depth of reforms will depend on the NSA review panel's proposals that the President decides to adopt. As per the report, Mr. Obama is expected to give a green signal to three of the panel's recommendations.
The review panel recommends that the United States of America should extend to non-Americans the protections of the Privacy Act of 1974. This is an important recommendation, especially in the wake of worldwide outrage after reports of NSA spying on foreign nationals surfaced.
Another recommendation proposes the creation of a privacy advocate to argue before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. As of now, the court approves requests for surveillance based only on arguments from the government's perspective.
The third recommendation that's likely to get the presidential nod is related to restructuring of the phone-data program. It proposes that the database of information collected through surveillance programs should be held by the phone companies or a third party. Currently all the data is stored by the National Security Agency in its database.
Apart from these, the review panel proposed many other important recommendations including ending the practice by the FBI of demanding data through "national security letters" without any judicial approval.
It could or could not be a major overhaul. But one thing is for sure, it will be a victory for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who wanted an open debate on the surveillance issue.