NSA

Some Recommendations to Rein In NSA Domestic Surveillance Already Rejected By Obama

|

NSA spying
EFF

The Washington Post is reporting that the White House will release later today the report from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology appointed by President Obama in August. This review was prompted by the revelations of Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency was, among other activities, monitoring for the past five years when, to whom, and for how long virtually every American spoke on their phones. The group has made 40 recommendations with regard to how and when the NSA may engage in domestic surveillance.

From the Post:

The recommendation that the NSA no longer keep the phone database — estimated by some former officials to contain more than 1 trillion records — is among a set of sweeping technical reforms aimed at restoring public confidence in the spying apparatus, said individuals briefed on its contents…

Rather than the NSA, the phone companies or a third party would hold the records, said U.S. officials briefed on the contents.

The report's 40-plus recommendations, also include barring NSA from asking companies to build "backdoors" into their software so that the government may gain access to encrypted communications, barring it from undermining global encryption standards and prohibiting it from stockpiling "zero day" hacking tools that can be used to penetrate computer systems, and in some cases, damage or destroy them, according to the individuals, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

The panel also suggested moving the NSA's information assurance directorate, which is in charge of protecting classified government computer systems, under a separate entity. The idea there would be to separate a clearly defensive mission from the offensive side of NSA, which works to gain access to networks overseas for espionage, and which can be used to enable a military cyber attack on an adversary's computer system.

At a minimum, these proposals certainly should be adopted. However, the Post reports that the president may be reluctant to go even this far:

Some U.S. officials have said that the White House, which is free to accept, reject or modify the panel's ideas, has indicated it is not likely to endorse substantive changes to the phone records program.

In fact, the president has evidently already rejected the important recommendation that a civilian be appointed to head up the NSA.

Yesterday, the CEOs of leading Internet firms, Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Facebook met with President Obama to express their concerns about NSA spying. Last week, they had released an open letter to the president and Congress urging the adoption of five principles to govern government surveillance. The five principles listed at the ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com website include (1) no bulk collection of user data; (2) independent judicial review of intelligence agency demands, (3) transparent reports on what is being compelled; (4) no country firewalls against cross border data; and (5) a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) among countries to prevent conflicts.

Earlier this week, a federal district court judge found that NSA domestic surveillance program violated the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

It is a puzzle that the man who promised that his administration would be the most transparent in history is apparently refusing to make "substantive changes" to domestic surveillance programs.

NEXT: Delta CEO Promises Voice Calling Won't Be Allowed on Planes

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.

  1. It’s not so puzzling when you realize he’s full of shit.

  2. It is a puzzle that the man who promised that his administration would be the most transparent in history is apparently refusing to make “substantive changes” to domestic surveillance programs.

    After even five minutes of exposure to Obama’s bullshit…no it’s not.

  3. Yesterday, the CEOs of leading Internet firms, Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Facebook met with President Obama to express their concerns about NSA spying.

    NPR noted that many of the leaders of these firms supported Obama’s campaign. I nodded knowingly…

  4. Fun quiz! Choose the correct least untruthful statement:

    A) Carney said the review, which was originally to be published in January, is being released now because of “accurate” media reports about its contents.

    B) Carney said the review, which was originally to be published today, will be released in January because of “inaccurate” media reports about its contents.

    C) Carney said the review, which was originally to be published in January, is being released now because of “inaccurate” media reports about its contents.

    D) Carney said the review, which was originally to be published today, will be released in January because of “accurate” media reports about its contents.

    1. TRICK QUESTION! All of the above?

  5. “”At a minimum, these proposals certainly should be adopted.””

    Sigh.

    Basically, asking the NSA to “stop doing what it *can* do” is akin to ordering your dog to stop licking its own balls.

    The best they’ll ever get out of Obama is, “OK, FINE! We’ll lie about what we’re doing *harder* and just deny *more*, because shit, its not like there’s going to be ANOTHER snowden. You people are idiots if you think this stuff is ever going back in the box.”

  6. Have I seen this show before?

    1) The President is outraged, OUTRAGED at what he found out reading the newspaper.
    2) The President vows to get to the bottom of it.
    3) The President selects a committee to address the issue.
    4) Lots of time passes. President crosses his fingers that the issue will go away.
    5) The Committee delivers its results. The recommendations are surprisingly thoughtful and well crafted.
    6) The President ignores absolutely every recommendation from the committee.
    7) Rinse, Lather, Repeat

    1. Remember the days when FDR IMPLEMENTED every recommendation from the committee?

      Decision-making is teh hard.

  7. amazing just how racist those companies are!!!! Sarc.

  8. Serious question. What if Obama has been majorly abusing the NSA and using it to spy on his political enemies? The NSA would pretty much have him by the nuts wouldn’t they?

    Maybe Obama is turning down all of these recommendations and dying on this hill because he really cares about America’s safety and thinks the NSA is necessary for that. That is possible. But it is also possible he is doing this because if he doesn’t the NSA will leak a few things in retaliation. Just a thought.

    1. It need not be that Obama is abusing NSA powers. I could be that NSA has the info on him, just as they can have the info on anyone they choose.

      1. It could be that as well. They certainly could obtain his college records and any records relating to his travels they wanted to.

        The only “birther” theory that ever made any sense was that he had duel citizenship with either Indonesia or Kenya and claimed to be a foreign student as a way to get into Columbia. Now, the rule for duel citizenship is that you can have it as a child but once you turn 18 and affirmatively assert one citizenship you lose the other. So if Obama were a duel citizen and claimed to be a Kenyan citizen to get into Columbia, he would legally no longer be a US citizen and technically ineligible to be President no matter where he was born.

        If that fact ever came out all hell would break lose. And if that is in fact true, the NSA, and a lot of other people, know about it and have the goods on it.


        1. Now, the rule for duel citizenship is that you can have it as a child but once you turn 18 and affirmatively assert one citizenship you lose the other.

          US dual citizens don’t lose their US citizenship unless they officially renounce their US citizenship.

          Wiki article on dual citizenship

    2. What if Obama has been majorly abusing the NSA and using it to spy on his political enemies? The NSA would pretty much have him by the nuts wouldn’t they?

      I am waiting for the revelation that politicians and/or high level functionaries in the intelligence bureaucracy have been using the capabilities of things like the NSA for insider trading. Ordinary Nixonian wiretapping one’s enemies works too, I guess. We already know they’ve no compunctions about siccing the IRS on them.

  9. …”It is a puzzle that the man who promised that his administration would be the most transparent in history is apparently refusing to make “substantive changes” to domestic surveillance programs.”

    Only if you are easily suckered by con men.

  10. “Some Recommendations to Rein In NSA Domestic Surveillance Already Rejected By Obama”

    In other news, Some Recommendations to Rein in StaSi Domestic Surveillance Already Rejected By Honecker

    Does anyone think a statist like Obama would ever diminish the capabilities the most powerful and pervasive surveillance apparatus in the history of the world?

  11. Not sure what this means, given that it’s clear NSA did things without Congressional awareness and even managed to go so far in spying that it weirded out pro-spying Senators. So they pass a law – who can enforce it against the NSA, which hid from Congress the phone database and hid its wiretapping of foreign allied leaders?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.