Brennan Center Encouraged by President’s Steps to Curb Surveillance Abuse

January 17, 2014

Today, President Obama announced critical changes to the government’s controversial surveillance programs. The president vowed that the government will no longer hold metadata on American telephone records and added a judicial review requirement before the government can search the database. He also called for additional restrictions on Section 702 to minimize the amount of Americans’ data collected through the program.

“We are encouraged by the reforms announced by President Obama today,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “He has opened the door to ratcheting back NSA surveillance of innocent Americans and non-citizens alike. But for every answer he gave, there are several new questions about how he plans to implement these changes. Ultimately, the full effect of these reforms remains to be seen.”

“Today the President recognized both the risks of unfettered surveillance programs, and the need to limit the U.S. government’s extraordinary electronic spying capabilities,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “This is the first step in the long road of bringing our security agencies back in line with our constitutional values.”

The President also proposed changes to the National Security Letter process, called for the creation of a public advocate in FISA Court proceedings, and announced new safeguards to protect the privacy of people overseas, including foreign leaders.

Click here to read the text of President Obama's speech.

Click here to read the list of reforms.