HEADLINES:
August 17 2019
Obama pledges surveillance reforms
09 August 2013

The U.S. President Barack Obama has announced a review of its surveillance programmes so as to bring transparency and win the confidence of the people, which has been shaken following the unauthorised leak of these secretive programmes by Edward Snowden, a NSA whistleblower.

“All these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values,” Mr. Obama said at a White House news conference on Friday.

“And to others around the world I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” he said.

Mr. Obama said the U.S. laws specifically prohibit the Administration from surveilling U.S. persons without a warrant.

And there are whole range of safeguards that have been put in place to make sure that that basic principle is abided by, he said.

Mr. Obama said he is mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends upon the example of American democracy and American openness.

“Because what makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation; it’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process,” he said as he spelled out the steps to bring transparency to the process and win the confidence of the people.

Prominent among them include reforms in the Patriot Act on the program that collects telephone records; improve public’s confidence in the oversight conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), directing the intelligence community to make public as much information about these programs as possible, and forming a high level group of outside experts to review entire intelligence and communications technologies.

Mr. Obama said he would ask Congress to reform one of the most controversial sections of the Patriot Act passed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks -- Section 215, which gives the government access to telephone and other records of its citizens.

“What I’m going to be pushing the intelligence community to do is rather than have a trunk come out here and a leg come out there and a tail come out there, let’s just put the whole elephant out there so people know exactly what they’re looking at, let’s examine what is working, what’s not, are there additional protections that can be put in place and let’s move forward,” he added.

Mr. Obama said he is tasking an independent group to step back and review U.S. capabilities, particularly its surveillance technologies, and they’ll consider how the U.S. can maintain the trust of the people, how to make sure that there absolutely is no abuse in terms of how these surveillance technologies are used, ask how surveillance impacts its foreign policy, particularly in an age when more and more information is becoming public.

“They will provide an interim report in 60 days and a final report by the end of this year, so that we can move forward with a better understanding of how these programmes impact our security, our privacy and our foreign policy.

“So all these steps are designed to ensure that the American people can trust that our efforts are in line with our interests and our values,” Mr. Obama said.

“To others around the world, I want to make clear once again that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people. Our intelligence is focused above all on finding the information that’s necessary to protect our people and, in many cases, protect our allies,” said the U.S. President.

“It’s true we have significant capabilities. What’s also true is we show a restraint that many governments around the world don’t even think to do, refuse to show.

“We shouldn’t forget the difference between the ability of our government to collect information online, under strict guidelines and for narrow purposes, and the willingness of some other governments to throw their own citizens in prison for what they say online,” he added.

 

 

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