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Fri Dec 20, 2013, 08:19 PM

Obama concedes NSA bulk collection of phone data may be unnecessary [View all]

Source: The Guardian

Obama concedes NSA bulk collection of phone data may be unnecessary

Dan Roberts, Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman in Washington
theguardian.com, Friday 20 December 2013 21.43 GMT

President Barack Obama has conceded that mass collection of private data by the US government may be unnecessary and said there were different ways of “skinning the cat”, which could allow intelligence agencies to keep the country safe without compromising privacy.

In an apparent endorsement of a recommendation by a review panel to shift responsibility for the bulk collection of telephone records away from the National Security Agency and on to the phone companies, the president said change was necessary to restore public confidence.

“In light of the disclosures, it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular programme may have, may be outweighed by the concerns that people have on its potential abuse,” Obama told an end-of-year White House press conference. “If it that’s the case, there may be a better way of skinning the cat.”

Though insisting he will not make a final decision until January, this is the furthest the president has gone in backing calls to dismantle the programme to collect telephone data, a practice the NSA claims has legal foundation under section 215 of the Patriot Act. This week, a federal judge said the program “very likely” violates the US constitution.

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Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/20/obama-nsa-collection-phone-data-unnecessary

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