aNewDomain.net — In a long awaited speech, US President Barack Obama has at last addressed the scope and severity of criticism around the FBI and NSA electronic surveillance programs. The recommendations Obama made still await Congressional approval. But his remedies fall short of what Silicon Valley and privacy advocates cried out for regarding sweeping data collection in such formerly secret programs as NSA PRISM, NSA Quantum and NSA ECHELON. Watch the Barack Obama NSA speech video below.
Scroll below the fold for more about Obama’s plans to limit the collection of phone data … and what he will and will not recommend so far as sweeping telephone and Internet communication collection go.
Video: WSJ Digital Video Network
In the hotly anticipated speech, Obama did call for an end of the NSA’s ability to store phone data. He is asking US Congress, he said, to come up with a place and location to hold the records.
Though Obama said that privacy advocates voice real concerns about the potential for abuse of saved data records, he said bulk collections of Internet and phone data are needed to fight terrorism.
At his speech at the US Department of Justice, Obama continued:
We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals — and our Constitution — require … (but) we cannot unilaterally disarm our intelligence agencies “
Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama said, has been ordered to deliver a report by March 28, 2014 on how to store bulk data collections.
In the speech today, Obama did not address Silicon Valley concerns about the government’s interference in the building of software and hardware, or systems like NSA Quantum that are designed to relay computer data to the NSA and/or FBI.
He also did not adopt recommendations that the US government’s secret FISA Court include a public advocate position or that the appointment of its justices come from outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
He did announce what he called “a presidential policy directive” that will provide rules and restrictions on intelligence activities. And, as predicted, he said there would be new restrictions on the spying of foreign leaders. Such activities necessarily need “a compelling national security purpose,” he said. The issue of foreign dignitary spying is a hot one. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke aggressively on NSA spying in her country. And late last year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff did not show up for a planned U.S. visit — in protest over exactly this issue.
Obama also underlined that “the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security … we take their privacy concerns into account.” The same is true for foreign leaders, he said.