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July 28, 2014
Saturday, January 18, 2014

The most important changes proposed:

Here’s a look at some of the changes US President Barack Obama is proposing to limit NSA surveillance programmes:
 
SPYING ON LEADERS OVERSEAS
Revelations that the US monitored the communications of friendly heads of state have sparked outrage overseas. Going forward, the US won’t monitor the communications of “our close friends and allies overseas” unless there’s a compelling national security purpose. But the White House isn’t publicizing a list of which countries fall under that category, so it’s not clear how it will be implemented.

SPYING ON FOREIGNERS
Obama is issuing a presidential directive that outlines what the government uses intelligence for, and what purposes are prohibited. The directive says the government uses data for counterintelligence, counterterrorism and cybersecurity, to protect US forces and allies, and to combat weapons proliferation and transnational crime. The directive says intelligence can’t be used to suppress criticism, to provide a competitive advantage to US companies, or to discriminate against people based on factors like race, gender or sexual orientation.
Obama is also proposing to extend to foreigners some protections against spying that US citizens enjoy.
 
 PHONE RECORDS STORAGE
 Effective immediately, the National Security Agency will be required to get a secretive court’s permission before accessing phone records that are collected from hundreds of millions of US nationals.
Those records, which include numbers dialed and call lengths but not the content of calls, are currently stored by the government. But Obama is calling for that to change. He is directing the attorney general and the intelligence community to come up with a new plan for another party to store the data. Some of the proposals that have been floated previously include having phone companies or a new, third party store the data.
Also, the government will no longer be able to access phone records beyond two “hops” from the person they are targeting. That means the government can’t access records for someone who called someone who called someone who called the suspect.
 
 NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS
 No longer will national security letters be kept secret indefinitely. Federal law enforcement officers issue these letters to banks, phone companies and others, demanding customer information, and the recipients are currently barred from disclosing that they’ve received the requests. Under Obama’s proposal, the government must establish the need for those letters to remain secret. The White House says providers receiving the letters will be able to make more information about them available publicly than ever before.
One aspect that’s not changing is the government’s ability to issue the letters without seeking a court’s approval.
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