Privacy and Civil Rights Advocates Respond to Surveillance Speech

Author: Kevin Taglang
Coverage Type: reporting
Washington, DC, United States

Civil liberties groups said President Barack Obama hit some of the right notes in his National Security Agency reform speech -- but they want more.

“I would characterize today’s speech as baby steps when bold leaps are necessary,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director for the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “Much of what the president said is pointing in a good direction, but there are still a lot of key unanswered questions.” “If mandatory data retention or third-party bulk data storage ends up a political nonstarter,” Bankston said, “is [the President] going to stand by his commitment to have the government stop collecting and storing the bulk data?”

“I think the judicial authorization of queries of the database is a clear step forward,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “However, the standard under which that authorization would be given was left ambiguous.”

Amnesty International Executive Director Steven Hawkins said pledges to protect foreign citizens’ privacy and limit US spying on foreign leaders were “insufficient” to end worldwide concern about mass surveillance. “The big picture takeaway from today's speech is that the right to privacy remains under grave threat both here at home and around the world,” he said. “President Obama’s surveillance adjustments will be remembered as music on the Titanic unless his administration adopts deeper reforms.”



Login to rate this headline.