Obama Wants To Reform NSA Surveillance Programs

The president wants to ensure there is an adversarial voice involved in FISA court proceedings, and said he plans to work with Congress to reform the part of the Patriot Act that deals with phone data records.

Obama Wants To Reform NSA Surveillance Programs

At a news conference on Friday, President Obama said he was making plans to improve government oversight of surveillance programs in an effort to ensure the protection of civil rights and restore the public’s trust in the government.

“Given the history of abuse by governments, it’s right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives,” Obama said, according to Reuters.

The announcement comes after recent revelations about the NSA’s widespread surveillance efforts, leaked by Edward Snowden. The NSA’s collection of phone and web metadata has many Americans writhing in discomfort. Specifically, Obama said he plans to overhaul Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which deals with tracking metadata in phone records. He also wishes to let civil liberties representatives in on decisions made by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding tracking individuals.

Obama’s attempt at making the NSA and government surveillance efforts more transparent may appease some Snowden supporters, but as Reuters notes, it’s unclear whether or not Congress will take up the initiatives. Snowden was recently offered asylum in Russia.

[Image: Flickr user jonathan mcintosh]

About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at TheWeek.com.