While our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments as opposed to ordinary citizens around the world, in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation do, we will not apologize because our services may be more effective. But heads of state and government with whom we work closely, on whose cooperation we depend, should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners. The changes the President ordered do just that.
To support our work, the President has directed changes to how our government is organized. The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. The Administration will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that we have announced today. And the President has also asked his Counselor, John Podesta, to lead a review of big data and privacy. This group will consist of government officials who — along with the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology — will reach out to privacy experts, technologists and business leaders, and look at how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors; whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data; and how we can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security.
The President also announced that we will devote resources to centralize and improve the process we use to handle foreign requests for legal assistance, called the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process. Under MLAT, foreign partners can request access to information stored in the United States pursuant to U.S. law. As the concentration of U.S.-based cloud storage providers has increased, so has the number of MLAT requests. To address this increase, we will speed up and centralize MLAT processing; we will implement new technology to increase the efficiency and transparency of the process; and we will increase our international outreach and training to help ensure that requests meet U.S. legal standards. We will put the necessary resources in place to reduce our response time by half by the end of 2015, and we will work aggressively to respond to legally sufficient requests in a matter of weeks. This change will ensure that our foreign partners can more effectively use information held in the U.S. to prosecute terrorists and other criminals, while still meeting the strict privacy protections put in place by U.S. law.
In addition to the initiatives that were announced by the President, the Administration's review affirmed our commitment to ongoing initiatives:
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