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

NSA spyingThe
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
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
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.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.