Wednesday afternoon President Obama received the appointed presidential panel's review report on the N.S.A. and its recommendations on how to proceed with data collection, reports the N.Y. Times.
A panel of outside advisers selected by the President and placed into action last August urged President Obama to impose major oversight and some restrictions on the National Security Agency, arguing that in the past dozen years its powers had been enhanced at the expense of personal privacy.
The panel recommended changes in the way the agency collects the telephone data of Americans, spies on foreign leaders and prepares for cyber attacks abroad.
The most striking and significant recommendation by the panel is that the ‘metadata’ currently collected by the N.S.A. should remain in the hands of telecommunications companies or a private consortium, and a court order should be necessary each time analysts want to access the information of any individual ‘for queries and data mining.’
A senior administration official said Mr. Obama listened to the panel of experts brief him on their 46 recommendations and was ‘open to many’ of the changes, though he has already rejected one that called for separate leaders for the N.S.A. and its Pentagon cousin, the United States Cyber Command.
If the majority portion of the report recommendations are put into place by President Obama it will mark the first time since 9/11 and adjustment in unilateral power and more court approvals.
The agency would also have to give up one of its most potent weapons in cyber conflicts: the ability to insert ‘back doors’ in American hardware or software, a secret way into them to manipulate computers, or to purchase previously unknown flaws in software that it can use to conduct cyber attacks.
The report comes a few days after the Federal Court ruling in Washington D.C. from Judge Leon who classified the N.S.A. telephone data collection as ‘Orwellian.’ He questioned the constitutionality of the procedures by the N.S.A. in this massive megadata collection.
The Silicon Valley executives complained to President Obama at a meeting on Tuesday in the White House that the N.S.A. practices were undermining American competitiveness in offering cloud services or selling American-made hardware, which is now viewed as tainted.
The report was well received on the Hill as a positive step forward if the President accepts the recommendations. Civil liberties groups welcomed the report and its aggressive recommendations .
Mr. Obama is expected to take the report to Hawaii on his vacation that starts this week and announce decisions when he returns in early January. Some of the report’s proposals could be ordered by Mr. Obama alone, while others would require legislation from Congress, including changes to how judges are appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.