President Obama on Friday announced a series of changes to National Security Agency surveillance programs that have sparked controversy around the world since they were revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks.
He said he was ordering the National Security Agency to obtain judicial approval before looking at the database of telephone records. He is also limiting the scope of inquires to two “hops” from a potential terrorist target, lessening the number of individuals who have their phone records reviewed through the course of a terror investigation.
Obama also argued the government should forfeit its massive trove of telephone metadata — without offering a specific proposal for who will store that information in the future.
Speaking at the Justice Department on Friday, Obama sought to reassure Americans that the new reforms would effectively balance the protection of national security and civil liberties.
“We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals – and our Constitution – require," Obama said.
Several of the reforms Obama called for will require action by Congress.