Skip to main content

Obama to announce NSA revamp on Friday

US President Barack Obama is expected to unveil reforms to the National Security Agency that could include extended privacy protections to non-US citizens, according to sources close to the matter.

Obama is expected to announce the proposals in a speech this Friday, putting an end to speculation on what actions the US government will take in response to the spying scandal that has sullied its international reputation since last June.

According to the Washington Post, officials familiar with the process also expect a restructuring of the NSA's PRISM programme that is responsible for the mass collection of phone-call data.

"This is really crunchtime," Senator Ron Wyden, a member of the Senate intelligence committee who has advocated a major surveillance overhaul, told the Post. "This is when major decisions about the new rules as it relates to surveillance are going to be made."

The US President has been meeting with leaders of intelligence agencies, lawmakers, privacy advocates, technology companies and congressional leaders as part of the review process.

Last month, draft proposals from an NSA review panel revealed 46 recommendations that would see significant limitations to the way the agency collects and stores data.

The presidential commission involved with the proposals was nominated by Obama but reports to Congress.

It can be expected that whatever decisions are made some will surely anger one or more interested parties, in what is a highly polarised political environment. Any reforms at all to the NSA will most likely be greeted by the agency itself as unnecessary and reactionary.

In a Senate hearing last month, NSA Director General Keith Alexander said: "If we could come up with a better way, we ought to put it on the table and argue our way through it. The issue that I see right now is that there isn't a better way."