President Barack Obama will announce an end to the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone data in a speech Friday, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
Obama will give a speech at the Justice Department announcing the outcomes of his administration's review of surveillance programs, following recommendations in December from a five-member review panel appointed by the White House that concluded the dragnet collection of American phone records "should be terminated as soon as reasonably practicable."
The review panel also suggested that private companies could collect data that the NSA could access, and could be mandated to do so if necessary, a suggestion that privacy advocates advise against.
Rather than offering his own plan for how to end the controversial data collection or where the phone records should be moved, Obama will request that Attorney General Eric Holder and the intelligence community to recommend a transfer point before March 28, when the collection program comes up for reauthorization, The AP reports. Obama will also consult Congress on this issue, according to The AP.
Obama is also expected to call for the creation of a privacy advocate to argue civil liberties concerns to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that reviews data requests from spy agencies, The AP reports. Increased transparency and the creation of a privacy advocate for the FISC has been proposed in Congress by even the staunchest defenders of NSA surveillance. Obama will also likely recommend study on several of the 46 recommendations from the presidential review group, including ideas for expanding privacy protections to foreigners, according to the AP.
Criticism against NSA surveillance has come from all levels of U.S. government, the courts and even international leaders since former agency contractor Edward Snowden, now a fugitive in Russia, leaked classified documents on the surveillance programs to the press. Obama has expressed a national security need for the NSA's data collection program, but the mounting criticism has created a need for the administration to regain the public's confidence in the agency.