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Cyber Security Expert: Obama’s NSA Plan Is ‘Disappointing’


Photo: The White House

President Obama gave a speech Friday highlighting the need to change intelligence collection procedure by the NSA.

On Friday, President Obama gave a speech highlighting the need to change how government agencies collect data through phone records and online monitoring.

As NPR reports, Obama said he’s ordered a plan to be drafted that would shift that data to another entity.

The information could then only be “queried … after a judicial finding or in a true emergency.” He’s also ordered, the president said, that the NSA narrow the scope of its activities. “We will only pursue phone calls that are two steps removed from a number associated with a terrorist organization instead of three,” Obama said.

Claire McInerny sat down with Fred Cate, a faculty member at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and the director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research to discuss the speech and what changes we might see going forward.

Interview Highlights:

McInerny: One of the things President Obama brought up today as something he wants to change about security in the country is taking away some access to telephone data from intelligence organizations. Is this possible to remove that access from the government and still monitor for potential threats, like terrorist attacks?

Cate: I think it is possible, I don’t think we quite know yet what the President’s proposing because he said that his own review committee had recommended putting that information in the hands of a third party, he didn’t like that idea. Letting the telephone companies keep that data, and he thought that created operational concerns. So he’s given his own administration two months to come up with an alternative so we’ll see by March 28 what that alternative is going to be.

McInerny: Since the country was only aware of the extent of the NSA’s access to our phone records after Edward Snowden told the press, is there any way we will know if the changes President Obama is talking about actually happen?

Cate: The answer right now is probably no…so I think we’re going to depend on investigative journalists and leakers

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