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Obama’s Data Collection Tweaks Disappoint Privacy Advocates. Again

Obama’s Data Collection Tweaks Disappoint Privacy Advocates. Again
[Photo: Flickr user r2hox]

The Obama administration has announced new rules for how the U.S. government collects the world’s data: Agencies will delete incidentally collected data about Americans that doesn’t serve intelligence purposes and do the same with data on foreigners within five years. In other words, more semantic decisions by analysts as to what is (and isn’t) relevant to intelligence and no reductions in data collecting that have raised the ire of privacy activists.

The White House will now review the National Security Agency’s monitoring of foreign leaders–hooray for them–but as The New York Times points out, little headway has been made on the plans President Obama recently proposed to the Justice Department. The U.S. government is still holding on to bulk phone record metadata, thanks to big telecom corporations unable (or unwilling) to store that data themselves.

Today’s announcement is more of the same from the Obama administration: modest changes in how long data is collected and codification of how it’s collected, but no concrete curbs in collection as a whole. For example, the controversial national security letters–subpoenas that the FBI writes itself without a judge to compel requests from companies and individuals, who are afterward sworn to secrecy–will have their nondisclosure orders expire “at the earlier of three years.” Unless a midlevel FBI agent justifies its renewal.

This comes on the heels of lukewarm consumer and student privacy initiatives by the Obama administration last January that would require companies to notify customers of data breaches within 30 days and prevent some student data mining and selling. Obama had also announced a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights,” but like privacy concerns surrounding government collection of data, this one’s taken years for the Obama administration to propose a solid response–the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights was proposed in 2012.

[via The New York Times ]

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