President Barack Obama on Friday is outlining reforms and changes to the U.S.’s signals intelligence programs, after a months-long review of National Security Agency processes that was spurred by leaks from former contractor Edward Snowden.
Perhaps the biggest change Obama is proposing will be a limit on the NSA’s ability to collect bulk phone “metadata” from millions of Americans, under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. In the next 60 days, Obama will ask Congress, the Justice Department, and the intelligence community to decide where such data should be stored.
“The president believes that the 215 program addresses important capabilities that allow us to counter terrorism, but that we can and should be able to preserve those capabilities while addressing the privacy and civil liberties concerns that are raised by the government holding this metadata,” a senior administration official said.
Immediately, Obama will also tweak the program to require judicial approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court every time the government wants a query on information from the phone database to go forward, according to senior administration officials. That would end the government’s blanket access to the data as it stands now.
Some other key changes Obama is proposing:
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