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White House Releases Findings of Internal NSA Review

Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

The White House announced Wednesday the release of the findings from a presidential advisory committee review of NSA surveillance practices.

Though progressive analysts slammed the review board for being "typical Washington DC whitewash," one official described the recommendations as “significantly more far-reaching than many expected.”

Reporting on leaked details, the Washington Post writes that among the "sweeping technical reforms," the panel advises that the NSA no longer be entrusted with the phone database, estimated by some to contain more than 1 trillion records, according to an official briefed on the review.

The Post continues:

Rather than the NSA, the phone companies or a third party would hold the records, said U.S. officials briefed on the contents.

The 200-page report’s 40-plus recommendations, also include barring NSA from asking companies to build “backdoors” into their software so that the government may gain access to encrypted communications. The NSA would also be prevented from undermining global encryption standards and prohibited from stockpiling “zero day” hacking tools that can be used to penetrate computer systems, and in some cases, damage or destroy them, according to the individuals, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

The panel also suggested moving the NSA’s information assurance directorate, which is in charge of protecting classified government computer systems, under a separate entity. The idea there would be to separate a clearly defensive mission from the offensive side of NSA, which works to gain access to networks overseas for espionage, and which can be used to enable a military cyber attack on an adversary’s computer system.

The Guardian is live blogging the release of the panel report.

Initially, the White House had intended to release the report in January. Following leaked details of the draft late last week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Obama administration is making the report public so that "Americans could judge the contents of the findings themselves."

It is unclear whether the White House will accept any of the panel's ideas. Some U.S. officials have reportedly said the Obama administration has indicated it is "not likely to endorse substantive changes to the phone records program," despite the Monday ruling by a U.S. federal court that the U.S. government "almost certainly" violated the constitution by mass collecting phone use data.

Even before the offical release of the report, Twitter users have been offering reactions:


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