Home Intelligence Draft Report on Intelligence and Communications Technology for Privacy and National Security Recommends Changes

Draft Report on Intelligence and Communications Technology for Privacy and National Security Recommends Changes

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By Jamie Smith, faculty member in the National Security Studies program at American Public University

This year, the issues of the right to privacy and the need for the government to collect information in the interest of national security came to a head when Edward Snowden revealed information related to the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance program.

All Americans want to be secure, but many Americans question to what lengths the government needs to go to obtain this security. This debate is still going strong as Congress examines how to best strike a balance between the right to privacy and the government’s need to know.

In the wake of the Snowden scandal and the revelation of widespread domestic surveillance, President Obama appointed an advisory panel of five experts to examine this issue. The panel, known as the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, recommended that domestic and foreign surveillance continue— subject to new protections.

On December 11, 2013 General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency and head of the military’s Cyber Command Unit, testified that surveillance will continue. On December 12, 2013 the President received a draft report from the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology, which recommended implementing changes to strengthen privacy.  Some recommendations are to:

  • Regularly review the NSA’s collection activities in a manner similar to reviews currently conducted of covert CIA activities
  • Create more stringent restrictions for when the government is permitted to query and examine call data
  • Appoint a privacy advocate to present an opposing view before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court, which currently only hears arguments from government representatives when deciding cases

This controversial issue will be examined well into 2014 as the President and Congress consider the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology’s full report and debate how its recommendations will impact privacy rights and the intelligence community.

About the Author: Jamie Smith is an attorney who earned a J.D. and M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She has a wide range of legal experience, including working for a major law firm and the federal government. She has been teaching undergrad and graduate classes since 2006 and is currently a full-time faculty member in the National Security Studies program at APUS. 

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