Barack Obama bans spying on leaders of US allies, scales back NSA program

Jan 18 2014, 13:12 IST
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In a nod to privacy advocates, the US government will not hold the bulk telephone metadata. (Reuters) In a nod to privacy advocates, the US government will not hold the bulk telephone metadata. (Reuters)
SummaryObama took steps to reassure Americans & foreigners alike that US will take into account privacy concerns.

his administration's anger at Snowden's revelations has not abated. Snowden, living in asylum in Russia, is wanted on espionage charges, although some Americans would like him to be granted amnesty for exposing secrets they feel needed to be made public.

"Given the fact of an open investigation, I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations," Obama said, making a rare mention of the former NSA contractor by name.

"The sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light, while revealing methods to our adversaries that could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come," he added.

Obama was silent on a number of his review group's recommendations, including some that called for a rebalancing of the intelligence agencies' sometimes conflicting missions to enhance cybersecurity while conducting computer spying and offensive operations.

The group had asked the administration to end efforts to weaken cryptography so that spies and law enforcement can more easily break into communications.

The panel also sought a wholesale change to the government's practice of developing or buying information about weaknesses in software design.

The White House did not address those points, to the disappointment of outside experts who feel the United States is making Internet security worse.

"NSA sabotage of crypto standards was the thing most conspicuously absent for me," University of Pennsylvania cryptographer Matt Blaze wrote on Twitter.

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