Mr. Obama plans to increase limits on access to bulk telephone data, call for privacy safeguards for foreigners and propose the creation of a public advocate to represent privacy concerns at a secret intelligence court. But he will not endorse leaving bulk data in the custody of telecommunications firms, nor will he require court permission for all so-called national security letters seeking business records. [...]The president is also likely to endorse the recommendation from his advisory group, and a number of congressional critics of the NSA and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court procedures, for the appointment of a public advocate to the court. Much of what he's considering will require Congress, and Congress is still sorting through the approach it will take, as Tuesday's Judiciary Committee hearing reflects.
The decision to provide additional privacy protections for non-American citizens or residents, for instance, largely codifies existing practices but will be followed by a 180-day study by the director of national intelligence about whether to go further. Likewise, instead of taking the storage of bulk data out of government hands, as recommended by a review panel he appointed, Mr. Obama will leave it in place for now and ask lawmakers to weigh in. [...]
Mr. Obama will cut back on the number of people whose phone records can be examined by the N.S.A. through its bulk data program. Currently the agency can scrutinize call records of people as far as three steps, or “hops,” removed from a suspect. Mr. Obama’s review panel proposed limiting searches to people just two steps removed. He is also likely to cut down the number of years such data can be retained; currently it is deleted after five years.
President Obama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who's phone won't be tapped any more.
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