Changes Being Made to NSA

Earlier today, Obama announced the changes made about how the government does its anti-terror surveillance.  This comes in light of the NSA scandal this past June with Edward Snowden.  This speech explained how the government collects records on your phone calls, emails and online chats.

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, whose whistleblowing caused the NSA scandal in June of 2013.

Now, if the government wants to collect phone records, then they must ask a judge (in secret) for permission.  Obama said that he wants to open the doors of the court to advocates outside of the government who can provide an independent voice in “significant cases”.  The plan is to ensure that outside voices have a say in what happens.

Since the Snowden crisis, the NSA has been collecting details on millions of phone calls in the US.  However, they’re not recording the actual call; rather, they’re collecting information like the phone numbers and the length of time for each call.  While that won’t be ending, Obama claims that changes are coming.  Both fewer calls will be cataloged, and analysts will have to get a judge’s approval if they want to dip into records.  Eventually, the government will stop recording and storing these records, although it isn’t clear as to when this will happen.

Previously, the government would require tech companies to give them information about suspected terrorists and other “suspicious” peoples without saying anything about it.  Obama wants this to be more transparent, although the details about this remain vague.

The NSA scandal had a ripple effect, as it was leaked that the United States was also monitoring foreigners.  According to Obama, the US will now make the effort to develop some privacy safeguards for foreigners.  This could include limits on how long the government keeps information and taking steps to ensure that it’s only used in certain situations.

Many people critical of the NSA have been quick to criticize this speech.  Many of them think that it didn’t really say anything special, and amounted to little (if anything).  It’s expected Snowden, the one responsible for all of this, will speak about the changes soon.