NSA Cyber-Snooping Attacked on Three Fronts in Single Week
NEWS ANALYSIS: It's been a tough week for the National Security Agency, as its cyber-surveillance activities are slammed by a federal judge, a group of industry executives and, most significantly, the president's own advisers.A report released by a hand-picked panel of presidential advisers on Dec. 18 is only the latest blow delivered to the National Security Agency during the week leading up to Christmas. The 300-page report was compiled by the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. The group was chartered to study the activities of the NSA and other intelligence agencies and produced a list of 46 recommendations to change the structure and operations of the NSA and several related agencies. While all of the recommendations are significant, the ones of greatest importance include changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, including the formation of a Public Interest Advocate to be created by Congress to represent the interests of privacy and civil liberties in proceedings before the FISC. The panel also called for limits on the court's power to compel private organizations to produce information, for increased transparency in the court's operations and new procedures for the selection of FISC judges.
Some of the moves were sweeping, including a call to end the storage of metadata by the agency, a call to split the NSA from U.S. Cyber Command, and allowing the director of the NSA to be a civilian. In addition, the panel called for better protection of information to prevent thefts and leaks of classified information such as those carried out by former government contract employee Edward Snowden.