Thanks Snowden

A panel appointed by President Obama has recommended fairly large changes to the way the security apparatus runs itself (Kevin Drum has a list of some important suggestions here):

 But the most significant recommendation of the panel of five intelligence and legal experts was that Mr. Obama restructure a program in which the N.S.A. systematically collects logs of all American phone calls — so-called metadata — and a small group of agency officials have the power to authorize the search of an individual’s telephone contacts. Instead, the panel said, the data should remain in the hands of telecommunications companies or a private consortium, and a court order should be necessary each time analysts want to access the information of any individual “for queries and data mining.”

Greg Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology called the report “remarkably strong,” and singled out its call to sharply limit the F.B.I.’s power to obtain business records about someone through a so-called national security letter, which does not involve court oversight.

Echoing proposals already floated in congressional hearings and elsewhere, the advisory group backs the view that there should be a “public interest advocate to represent the interests of privacy and civil liberties” in classified arguments before the court. It also says the power to select judges for the surveillance court should be distributed among all the Supreme Court justices.

If you think any of this would be happening without the leaks by Snowden you don’t know how government works. Hopefully much of these recommendations will be followed.

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