President Obama is protected by the secret service

Secret service scandal : Experts demand far-reaching NSA reforms from Obama

The scandal surrounding the American spying attack on Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and top politicians from other countries could have consequences for the work of the US secret services. The expert commission set up by US President Barack Obama to review the secret services calls for far-reaching reforms of the controversial surveillance programs. In the final report published by the White House on Wednesday, the experts warned that data collections should be limited and that there should be greater cooperation with allied states. The National Security Agency (NSA) must retain "robust" intelligence capabilities, the report says.
The panel came to the conclusion "that some of the powers that were created or expanded after September 11th, inadmissibly sacrifice fundamental interests in individual freedom, privacy and democratic governance," says the more than 300-page strong Report. Civil rights and security needs in the fight against terrorism should be brought into a "better balance". However, that does not mean that the "fight against terrorism is over," said panel member Richard Clarke.
Obama had set up the commission made up of intelligence and legal experts after the global outrage over the NSA's spying activities. The five-member body presented the report to Obama with a total of 46 non-binding recommendations last Friday. However, the White House now preferred the publication, which was actually planned for January, because of "incomplete and inaccurate" media reports on the content.


Since June, revelations by former US intelligence agent Edward Snowden have uncovered a number of spying activities by the NSA and allied intelligence agencies. The NSA probably not only monitored masses of e-mails and phone calls from people around the world, but also bugged top politicians from friendly countries, including Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU).
The experts demand, among other things, "significant steps" to protect the privacy of foreign citizens. The criteria for spying on foreign heads of state and government should also be tightened. In the USA, the secret service should no longer be allowed to systematically store phone data from citizens.

In addition, a reform of the special court Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is suggested, which has to approve spying actions in the country. Overall, the group of experts calls for a series of decisive reforms to the surveillance of the secret service. Your report is entitled “Freedom and Security in a Changing World”. As a key recommendation, the five-member committee mentions that the NSA should no longer save any telephone data it has collected itself in the future. This task should be done by private companies, according to a report published on Wednesday.
Last but not least, the experts are calling for more transparent work by the secret service, which must inform the public about the scope of its activities. They also propose the establishment of a privacy protection agency to monitor the work of the secret services and to receive complaints. The White House said the president, along with his security advisors, would decide to what extent the recommendations would be implemented.


On Monday, a US federal court had openly questioned the constitutionality of the NSA's actions for the first time. The Washington court judged the systematic tapping of telephone data by the secret service as a serious violation of the privacy of US citizens. The decision is provisional, however, to give the government the opportunity to appeal. Observers expect a long litigation.
Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly finally adopted a resolution drafted under the leadership of Germany and Brazil to protect privacy in the digital age. The plenary in New York approved the resolution tabled in response to the NSA spying affair on Wednesday by consensus. For the first time within the framework of the UN, the non-binding resolution states that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online. (dpa, AFP)

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