December 18, 2013 | By Rebecca Jeschke
The President’s Review Group today recognized the severe risks caused by the government’s mass spying on Americans and people around the world, joining the global consensus that the NSA has gone too far. The group’s report included over 40 recommendations for promoting transparency, protecting online security tools, and making organizational reforms to the NSA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the civil liberties oversight bodies. However, the report left open the door for future mass surveillance and failed to address the constitutionality of the NSA’s mass spying, recently questioned by the D.C. federal court and raised by EFF in its multiple lawsuits.
“The president’s panel agreed with the growing consensus that mass electronic surveillance has no place in American society,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said. “The review board floats a number of interesting reform proposals, and we’re especially happy to see them condemn the NSA’s attacks on encryption and other security systems people rely upon. But we’re disappointed that the recommendations suggest a path to continue untargeted spying. Mass surveillance is still heinous, even if private company servers are holding the data instead of government data centers.“
“We’re concerned that the panel appears to allow the NSA to continue the mass collection of emails, chats and other electronic communications of Americans under the pretext that the NSA is ‘targeting’ foreigners overseas,” said EFF Activist Trevor Timm. “While we’re happy that the panel acknowledged that foreigners abroad need some additional privacy protections, mass surveillance isn’t acceptable for Americans or foreigners.”