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Obama bans spying on leaders of U.S. allies, scales back NSA program

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Obama bans spying on leaders of U.S. allies, scales back NSA program


President Barack Obama announced a ban on U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies on Friday, and rein in the vast collection of Americans’ phone data in a series of reforms triggered by Edward Snowden’s revelations.

In a major speech, Obama took steps to reassure Americans and foreigners alike that the United States will take into account privacy concerns that arose after former U.S. spy contractor Snowden’s damaging disclosures about the large monitoring activities of the National Security Agency.

Obama promised that the United States will not eavesdrop on the heads of state or government of close U.S. friends and allies, which a senior administration official said would apply to dozens of leaders.

The step was designed to smooth over frayed relations between, for example, the United States and Germany after reports surfaced last year that the NSA had monitored the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Among the list of reforms, Obama called on Congress to establish an outside panel of privacy advocates for the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that considers terrorism cases.


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