December 18th , 2013 16:24 pm Leave a comment

Task force urges limit on NSA snooping

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A presidential advisory panel has recommended dozens of changes to the government’s surveillance programs, including stripping the National Security Agency of its ability to store Americans’ telephone records and requiring a court to sign off on the individual searches of phone and Internet data.

The panel did not recommend that the NSA stop seizing phone and Internet data entirely, and it was unclear whether the changes would limit the scope of the collections. President Barack Obama ordered the review board to submit recommendations following disclosures earlier this year about the vast nature of the government’s surveillance programs, but he is under no obligation to accept their proposals.

The White House authorized the release of the review group’s report Wednesday, weeks ahead of schedule.

The panel called for more independent review of what the NSA collects and the process by which it goes about gathering data. The group also proposed that a court sign off on the individual searches of the metadata.

In addition, the panel called for tightening federal law enforcement’s use of so-called national security letters, which give authorities sweeping authority to demand financial and phone records without prior court approval in national security cases. The task force recommended that authorities should be required to obtain a prior “judicial finding” showing “reasonable grounds” that the information sought was relevant to terrorism or other intelligence activities.

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