The 300-page report recommended changes in the way the NSA collected telephone data from Americans and foreign leaders to avert terrorist attacks. The committee presented 46 recommendations in total – and it’s said that the president is open to many of them – although it rejected a call for separate leaders for the NSA and its Pentagon cousin, the United States Cyber Command.
“We have identified a series of reforms that are designed 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,” the report stated.
“Free nations must protect themselves, and nations that protect themselves must remain free.”
Prior to this meeting, a federal judge in Washington ruled that the NSA’s method of collecting metadata was “almost Orwellian.” Civil liberty groups and NSA critics believe that collecting metadata is not necessary to stop terrorist attacks, and now it seems that the panel agrees with them.
One of the recommendations in the report stated that the agency would be required to get specific court approvals, more oversight from the congress, and specific presidential approval for spying on national leaders, especially allies. The NSA would also be required to give up its power to install backdoors that allows it to spy on people, while metadata would remain in the hands of telecommunication companies or a private consortium that would prevent the agency from getting their hands on the information.
Though the recommendations will put people’s mind at ease that something is being done about the NSA’s meddling, one question remains: Will the president actually go ahead and implement these recommendations?
“The president will work with his national security team to study the Review Group’s report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement,” the White House said in a statement. “The president will also continue consulting with Congress as reform proposals are considered in each chamber.”
In other words, it’s a question that remains to be answered.