Jan 16 2014

Will Obama Curb the NSA’s Reach? Likely Not

Seven months after Edward Snowden first blew the whistle on the National Security Agency’s spying network, new revelations continue to mount. Recently leaked information to the New York Times finds that the NSA has been using radio signals to gather information from computers not connected to the internet since as far back as 2008 under a program called Quantum. The spy agency has installed modified USB chips and circuit boards which can transmit radio waves into almost 100,000 computers worldwide enabling remote surveillance from distances of up to 8 miles away.

The NSA denies using the technology on domestic soil. It has instead targeted the Chinese military, the Russian police, Mexican drug cartels and trade union groups in the European Union.

Facing mounting pressure to address the issue of this warrantless worldwide spying, President Obama created the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies to issue a report on the NSA.

Despite the fact that the 5 member panel found that NSA surveillance had not prevented a single terrorist attack, the group avoided calling for a complete nullification of the program. Instead, the panel issued 46 recommendations to amend the program. Among the suggestions was creating legislation requiring the FBI to obtain court approval for national security letters before acquiring phone or financial records. Another was to allow telecom companies rather than the US Government to store phone records which are being gathered on a daily basis on practically every American.

Although civil libertarians are doubtful that there will be any significant changes, President Obama will make a speech on Friday laying out his proposals to revise the surveillance program.

GUEST: Kevin Bankston, Policy Director at Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation

Visit www.newamerica.net for more information.

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