NSA Surveillance Needs Oversight, Says President’s Review Group Report and Recommendations

The President’s Review Group, convened to address NSA surveillance and related issues revealed by Edward Snowden, has issued its report and recommendations on how to rein in and address the widespread, overbroad nature of NSA surveillance in general, and its trampling of privacy in particular, while at the same time addressing the genuine need for national security.

nsa curtailed

In the report, LIBERTY AND SECURITY IN A CHANGING WORLD: Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, the President’s Review Group makes forty-six recommendations for tightening up how the NSA has access to and gathers data.

It all started in August, when the President issued a memorandum in which he said, among other things, in response to the unfolding NSA PRISM scandal, “I believe it is important to take stock of how these technological advances alter the environment in which we conduct our intelligence mission. To this end, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I am directing you to establish a Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies (Review Group).”

The resulting 308-page report includes sections on “Reforming Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Directed at United States Persons”, “Reforming Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Directed at
Non-United States Persons”, “Determining What Intelligence Should Be Collected and How”, and “Protecting What We Do Collect”.

Some of the recommendations of the Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies include:

– Limit the bulk collection of telephone meta data.

– Increase transparency. As the White House explains, “The report urges Congress to enact legislation authorizing telephone, Internet, and other providers to disclose publicly general information about orders they receive directing them to provide information to the government.

– Extend privacy protections to non-US persons. Angela Merkel should appreciate this.

– Create a new process to “approve sensitive intelligence activities”.

Perhaps one of the more interesting recommendations is the retooling of the “Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board”, or PCLOB.

In a statement, the group said “We urge the creation of a newly chartered, strengthened, and independent Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board (CLPP Board) to replace the PCLOB, with authority to review government activity relating to foreign intelligence rather than only for counterterrorism.”

And as regards the NSA itself, the group opines “With respect to NSA, we propose that the Director position should be Senate-confirmed, civilians should be eligible to hold the position, and US Cyber Command should be separated from the NSA so that a single person would no longer wear a dual hat.”

Said the White House, in response to the release of the report, “Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration’s overall review of signals intelligence, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement.”

You can read the full report (in PDF form) here:

LIBERTY AND SECURITY IN A CHANGING WORLD: Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

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