President Obama on Friday revealed plans to overhaul the National Security Agency’s controversial telephone data collection program. A review panel appointed by the president recommended that the NSA no longer be allowed to retain such data and instead, it should be left in the hands of the telecommunications firms or an independent third party.
Unsurprisingly, the telecommunications firms declined to be part of the program. What’s more, there’s no third party in place to store such data. For these reasons, Obama has appointed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and intelligence agencies to figure it out and report back by March 28. The president will also consult with Congress although any changes may require legislation, we’re told.
It’s also worth pointing out that the president will require intelligence agencies to obtain approval to access the records through a FISA court, a secret court that oversees surveillance of terrorists and other targets.
Obama also announced tighter restrictions for spying on international leaders. As such, “dozens” of foreign leaders would now be safe from surveillance techniques although the protection did not extend to their advisors.
Contrary to recent information leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the president said the US does not indiscriminately snoop on those that pose no threat. If you recall, an NSA program known as Dishfire claims to collect nearly 200 million text messages each day even from people that aren’t suspected of illegal activity.
We’ll see what happens come March 28 when a transfer point for the database is recommended.