And if we don't know what those recommendations are, how can we be watchful that they are enacted?
by Jake Miller, CBS News, cbsnews.com -- Dec 18, 2013,
Among the 46 changes the task force recommended is a provision that would strip the NSA of the phone-records database it currently maintains and hand over control of that database to a third party or to the telephone companies that provided it.
“The current storage by the government of bulk meta-data creates potential risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty,” the report says.
One of the other recommendations in the report would create a new oversight process to determine the wisdom and efficacy of any U.S. surveillance of foreign leaders and foreign publics, a change likely spurred by the outcry from U.S. allies about overseas surveillance.
“Those involved in the process should consider whether (1) surveillance is motivated by especially important national security concerns or by concerns that are less pressing and (2) surveillance would involve leaders of nations with whom we share fundamental values and interests or leaders of other nations,” the report states.
So far ... so good. Not bad.
Here are some more of those those recommendations to correct the NSA over-reach -- along with a critique from a watchdog group, about where the Report does not go far enough.
by Brandon Bailey, mercurynews.com -- 12/18/2013
In a major recommendation, the panel called for the NSA to halt its practice of stockpiling telephone company "metadata," which include the times and duration of millions of Americans' phone calls, but not their content. A federal judge called that program "Orwellian" this week and ordered it to stop, although he stayed his order to allow an appeal.
Among other things, the White House panel said court approval should be required for National Security Letters, which the FBI has used to demand customer information and business records without a warrant, under the Patriot Act. It also proposed appointing a "Public Interest Advocate" to argue for privacy and civil liberties in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves many data-gathering programs.
"We're concerned that the panel appears to allow the NSA to continue the mass collection of emails, chats and other electronic communications of Americans under the pretext that the NSA is 'targeting' foreigners overseas," said Trevor Timm at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
This is one government report that shouldn't just sit on a shelf, gathering dust.
This is one government report who's suggestions should be implemented, If we ever hope to put that 'War on Terror' over-reaction -- back into a normal-sized bottle.
Report and Recommendations of The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies
12 December 2013
We suggest careful consideration of the following principles:
1. The United States Government must protect, at once, two different forms of security: national security and personal privacy.
2. The central task is one of risk management; multiple risks are involved, and all of them must be considered.
• Risks to privacy;
• Risks to freedom and civil liberties, on the Internet and elsewhere;
• Risks to our relationships with other nations; and
• Risks to trade and commerce, including international commerce.
3. The idea of “balancing” has an important element of truth, but it is also inadequate and misleading.
It is tempting to suggest that the underlying goal is to achieve the right “balance” between the two forms of security. The suggestion has an important element of truth. But some safeguards are not subject to balancing at all. In a free society, public officials should never engage in surveillance in order to punish their political enemies; to restrict freedom of speech or religion; to suppress legitimate criticism and dissent; [...]
4. The government should base its decisions on a careful analysis of consequences, including both benefits and costs (to the extent feasible).
Before they are undertaken, surveillance decisions should depend (to the extent feasible) on a careful assessment of the anticipated consequences, including the full range of relevant risks. Such decisions should also be subject to continuing scrutiny, including retrospective analysis, to ensure that any errors are corrected.
Some foundational Principles, imagine that!
And if we don't know what those principles are, how can we ever make sure that they are eventually and ultimately followed.
Unless we make good use of the Report, and know what it actually recommends for "fixing" the NSA.