Trying to tamp down concerns over U.S. surveillance powers, President Obama announced Friday he would end the National Security Agency's ability to store phone data collected from millions of Americans.
The president will also require intelligence agencies to obtain approval from a FISA court – a secret U.S. court that governs surveillance of terrorist and foreign espionage targets - before accessing the records.
While the president did not say the program would end, he did say the information collected would no longer be held by the NSA. He did not offer his own plan for where the phone records should be moved and will instead call on the attorney general and members of the intelligence community to recommend a transfer point by March 28 – which is when the collection program comes up for reauthorization.
As part of his directive, the president also announced tighter restrictions on spying on international leaders.
He also said the government could no longer request data beyond two people from the terrorist target.
He also said that ‘dozens' of foreign leaders would be safe from NSA surveillance techniques but did not offer that protection to their advisors.
Obama also said the U.S. doesn't indiscriminately snoop on people who pose no threat and doesn't use NSA records as a tool to suppress dissent or provide advantage for certain U.S. companies.