White House Publishes Report on Government Surveillance Programs
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On December 18, 2013, the White House published a report recommending reforms to the federal government’s wide-ranging surveillance programs. The voluminous report, entitled “Liberty and Security in a Changing World,” was authored by The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, an advisory panel that includes experts in national security, intelligence gathering and civil liberties.

The report begins by describing the varying goals of U.S. surveillance efforts, which range from defending national security to protecting the right to privacy to strengthening strategic alliances with other countries. The report then details 46 recommendations designed to balance these goals. Some notable recommendations include:

  • Establishing a general rule that the federal government should not collect and store “mass, undigested, non-public personal information about individuals to enable future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes”;
  • Increasing the transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court;
  • Applying the Privacy Act of 1974, which regulates the use and disclosure of personally identifiable information by federal agencies to “both US persons and non-US persons”;
  • Increasing the use of encryption and urging U.S. companies to encrypt data in transit, at rest and in storage (including in the cloud); and
  • Creating a Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board to “oversee Intelligence Community activities for foreign intelligence purposes, rather than only for counterterrorism purposes.”

The report concludes by noting the rapid pace of technological development and emphasizing that the reforms advocated in the report are intended to “safeguard the privacy and dignity of American citizens, and to promote public trust, while also allowing the Intelligence Community to do what must be done to respond to genuine threats.”

Read the full report.


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