US President Barack Obama is preparing to rein in the National Security Agency (NSA). He is expected to announce new limits on the spy agency’s reach later on Friday.
The NSA’s surveillance programme tracks nearly every phone call made and received in the USA.
Obama is expected to embrace greater privacy protections for non-US citizens, a move that may restore trust among Europeans.
He will need to please other groups too.
Stephen Vladeck, a national security law expert, believes Obama is faced by competing demands: “The hardest thing for the President in this context is the extent to which he cannot satisfy both constituencies, the intelligence community on the one hand, civil liberties advocates and civil liberties organisations on the other,” he said.
“But then the question is, if you can’t satisfy them no matter what, why don’t you just do what you think is right?” Vladeck continued.
Former NSA worker Edward Snowden revealed the existence of mass surveillance by the agency. He also disclosed that the USA was spying on its allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose mobile calls had been tapped.
That triggered an outcry across Europe.
Many expect Obama to limit spying on foreign leaders of US allies.
In the last few months, the president met an intelligence review committee which recommended many changes to the spying programme. Obama’s statement on which changes he will make will just be the starting point.
President Obama is expected to make his announcement on Friday at 17.00 CET. It will be broadcast live on euronews.