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Obama: US needs checks on NSA data gathering

Obama: US needs checks on NSA data gathering
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Data collection in the US could be “refined” to give the public more confidence that their privacy is not being violated.

President Barack Obama has hinted that some bulk phone data could be kept by private companies instead of the National Security Agency.

“I have confidence in the fact that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around,” he told reporters at a White House news conference.

“But I also recognise that, as technologies change and people can start running algorithms and programmes that map out all the information that we’re downloading on a daily basis into our telephones and our computers, that we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence.”

Obama added that he would be spending the next few weeks going through recommendations on how to reign in the NSA – in the wake of disclosures from former spy contractor Edward Snowden.

Questions about US government spying on civilians and foreign officials were thrust into the open in June when Snowden – now in Russia – leaked papers documenting widespread collection of phone and email data.

Snowden has been charged with divulging classified information and the US has unsuccessfully sought his return to stand trial.