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Obama's NSA reform proposals spark disappointment from some

Grant Gross | Jan. 20, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama's proposed changes to the National Security Agency's surveillance programs don't go far enough, some technology and digital rights groups said, while others hailed it as a good first step.

Obama would let the NSA access telephone metadata if it can establish a reasonable suspicion that a number is connected to terrorists, Szoka said. "This standard is too low to protect the privacy of the innocent. In general, the Fourth Amendment requires a 'probable cause' showing before a court may issue a warrant."

Virginia Sloan, president of The Constitution Project, a legal watchdog group: "We are disappointed that President Obama chose not to end the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone call records, nor to provide any specifics on how he would significantly alter it, even though his own hand-picked panel of intelligence experts urged him to substantially reform the program.

"Today, the president could have taken important steps to protect people's privacy against out-of-control government surveillance.  Unfortunately, he largely let that opportunity go to waste."

Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association: "After months of calling for more government transparency and public accountability, it is promising that President Obama recognized the need to reform the National Security Agency's intrusive surveillance practices. The American Library Association agrees that the systematic and unwarranted collection of surveillance data on millions of unsuspecting Americans must be curtailed, and we support plans to make National Security Letters more transparent.

"However, we are cautiously monitoring the Obama administration to ensure that President Obama's suggested surveillance changes extend far beyond his speech today. Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for legislative reforms that restore our basic expectations of privacy."

Ed Black, president and CEO of trade group the Computer and Communications Industry Association: "The president's speech was empathetic, balanced and thoughtful, but insufficient to meet the real needs of our globally connected world and a free Internet.

 "It's clear the president recognizes the potential for government overreach on surveillance and he is trying to provide more oversight and transparency about data collection. But we're disappointed he did not completely halt the collection and analysis of bulk metadata."

 

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