Last week, President Obama delivered a speech about U.S. surveillance policies. The speech came after months of classified documents being published because of Edward Snowden. Snowden, who was a contractor for the National Intelligence Agency, stole classified documents and sent them supposedly sent them to the guardian newspaper. In the leaked documents, programs like PRISM and the bulk collection of Americans’ data were detailed.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, Obama is proposing reform. However weak the reform is, he still thinks its reform. Here’s a list of the President’s ideas:
1. Let a third party or service provider keep bulk information instead of the government
I’m not sure this is real reform. Instead of the government storing all of the data, they’re just making someone else do it. The government can still access the data whenever it wants, with judicial approval.
2. Appoint a public advocate to represent privacy interests before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Not sure that the court would listen to a privacy advocate but ok.
3. Communication providers will be able to release more information on the orders they’ve received
Can’t really say anything bad about this one; transparency is one ingredient of a free society.
4. More restrictions and safeguards against spying on foreigners
The president stressed that when the U.S. collects information abroad, its to protect national security and not to listen in on ordinary conversations.
These changes are nowhere near what people that value privacy wanted or deserve. We can always count on Congress to protect us with legislation, right 😉
Photo by Christopher Dilts for Obama for America