Civil Libertarians on NSA Review Panel Recommendations

ObamaNSAgawkerThe Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies report, Liberty and Security in a Changing World, is now online. One of the chief recommendations is that the NSA no longer be allowed to monitor the phone calls of nearly every American. However, the panel did suggest that private companies hold that data which could be queried later by the NSA. Below are some preliminary assessments of it from various civil liberties advocates:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

“The president's panel agreed with the growing consensus that mass electronic surveillance has no place in American society,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said. “The review board floats a number of interesting reform proposals, and we're especially happy to see them condemn the NSA's attacks on encryption and other security systems people rely upon.  But we’re disappointed that the recommendations suggest a path to continue untargeted spying.  Mass surveillance is still heinous, even if private company servers are holding the data instead of government data centers.“ (emphasis added).

American Civil Liberties Union:

"We welcome this report, which advocates for many of the ACLU's positions, including an end to the government's dragnet collection of telephone metadata and its undermining of encryption standards," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "NSA's surveillance programs are un-American, unconstitutional, and need to be reined in. We urge President Obama to accept his own Review Panel's recommendations and end these programs."

In October, NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress that stopping the mass surveillance of  Americans "would result in this nation being attacked."

Starkly disagreeing with that assertion, Review Group panel member Michael Morrell told reporters:

"I do not believe, as a 33-year intelligence officer, that our recommendations will in any way undermine the capabilities of the US intelligence community to collect the information it needs to collect to keep the country safe."

In his ruling against the NSA surveillance program on Monday, Federal District Court Judge Richard Leon wrote:

“The government does not cite a single instance in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent attack, or otherwise aided the government in achieving any objective that was time-sensitive in nature. I have serious doubts about the efficacy of the metadata collection program as a means of conducting time-sensitive investigations in cases involving imminent threats of terrorism.”

It's official. A lot of Congressoids are against domestic spying; the judiciary has ruled against it; and now the executive branch represented by Obama's handpicked review panel is (partially) against it. Time to stop. And, oh yes, thank you Edward Snowden.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    One of the chief recommendations is that the NSA no longer be allowed to monitor the phone calls of nearly every American.

    They have everything in place to do it, so they will continue to do it, whether they're allowed to or not. It's inevitable.

  • ||

    Pretty much. A president or congress that was serious about stopping this could do it, but we have neither of those.

  • TimothyZ||

    Correct, and I want access to it. Given the market appetite for it, I want a piece of the action, the tracken, buyin' and sellin' split bills and parking camera laden vans. What's the turnover of these places that I've visiting? I can hardly believe the NSA is adequately exploiting the hoard Mammon inspired them to diligently compile. Not sole sourced, but verified with independently indexed transactions.

  • Redmanfms||

    Oh look, a left-wing version of SQURLSY (or whatever he's called)...

  • Dave Krueger||

    Every single action on the part of the executive branch regarding the NSA revelations is designed to one thing: make it all go away.

    Regardless of any play acting they do in public, they will never dismantle the surveillance state. It has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. It's about maintaining power, especially over political adversaries. I am not talking about adversaries from the other party. In government, the only party is the government party. Everything else is just a charade.

  • ||

    I think that about sums it up.

  • Winston||

    That would require politicians willing to eliminate a government program. So not happening.

  • Winston||

    That would require politicians willing to eliminate a government program. So not happening.

  • Derpetologist||

    In October, NSA Director Keith Alexander testified before Congress that stopping the mass surveillance of Americans "would result in this nation being attacked."

    ♫ Strap on... your helmets...the derp has begun!

    derpderpderp the Windowlicker Polka!

    ♫ It's started! It's going! There's no way to stop....

    derpderpderp The Windowlicker Polka!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    However, the panel did suggest that private companies hold that data which could be queried later by the NSA.

    So basically they want the NSA to transfer data storage costs.

  • Ron Bailey||

    FoE: Nicely said.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I guess that would also mean mandatory data retention requirements, probably beyond any already imposed on service providers.

  • fish||

    Isn't the whole point of the Utah facility to provide enough data storage to compile a full, complete, and running dossier on the whole country?

    (shit...what about all my gay goat porn viewing?)

  • ||

    I imagine that data storage cost to the govt would increase as the contract would go to some crony at an inflated price.

  • LynchPin1477||

    So I guess they are envisioning a law requiring companies to store their data for some number days/weeks/months/years. Leaving all questions of liberty aside for a moment, how the heck would such a low be written? Would it only apply to communication forms with a certain number of users? To only companies of a certain size? How broadly would it be written? 5 years ago there were no tweets. 10 years ago (or so) there was no social media. 20 years ago there was no widespread use of email or instant messaging. When the next big technology hits, will the NSA just say the laws don't apply and go about doing what they are doing now?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Don't worry, terrorism will be wrestled into submission by the time the next social networking innovation comes around. Or the Constitution will be amended. Or we'll forget about the NSA and there will be no Snowden to remind us.

  • Winston||

    Why are we so mad about the surveillance state? It isn't as bad as slavery. Plus we can watch Downton Abbey!

  • pmains||

    Slate apparently has a feature called The Explainer. Not satisfied with being Wonks, Fact Checkers and Media Mediators, Progressives now need an Explainer to dispel the myths clouding the minds of us mere mortals.

    Irregardless, when the 4th Amendment talks about "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures", it really just means the right of people to be secure in their house. Opinions to the contrary are fanciful and unfounded.

    Thus saith the Explainer.

  • AdamJ||

    We can't stop collecting, we just spent a billion dollars on a data center in Utah! What te fuck are we going to do with that? Utah!

  • RishJoMo||

    Sounds solit to me dude.

    www.PrivaWeb.tk

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement