Obama to force US intelligence agencies to delete irrelevant snooped data and calls


President Obama will announce new rules on Tuesday that will require US intelligence analysts to delete any irrelevant information and correspondence it collects on Americans and foreign nationals, reports The New York Times.

The orders will decree that intelligence agencies like the CIA and the NSA must immediately delete any calls and emails made by Americans that are “determined not to be relevant to foreign intelligence.” However, similar correspondence collected from foreigners in the course of surveillance exercises may be held for up to five years before being deleted.

In addition, the White House will regularly review the NSA’s monitoring of foreign leaders. The order comes a week ahead of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s scheduled visit to the White House, to discuss an arrangement for increased intelligence sharing between the two countries.

The new rules will also change the way national security letters (which allow the FBI to obtain classified information from companies, such as call logs and service subscriber records, without involving a judge) are used.

The administration will announce that, “the FBI will now presumptively terminate National Security Letter nondisclosure orders at the earlier of three years” after launching an investigation, or at the close of investigations. However, an exception can be made if a mid-level FBI official offers a written justification for continued secrecy.

Thus, if a company receives a request to grant access to its confidential records by way of a national security letter, the company may disclose to the public that it complied with the request, three years after the start of an investigation or at its close, whichever is earlier.

While the new rules are a step forward in increasing transparency in the workings of US intelligence agencies, they don’t address how these bodies will secure private user information from tech companies like Google and Apple. President Obama is expected to shed light on such issues in the coming weeks.

President Tweaks the Rules on Data Collection [The New York Times]

Featured image: Ralph Alswang/Wikipedia

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