After massive criticism of the far-reaching spying program of his intelligence services, U.S. President barack obama has presented plans for a better information policy. Obama promised in washington on friday evening that he would tighten controls on the authorities and make their work more transparent. In congress, he will seek concrete changes in the law. "We can and must be more transparent."
He wants as much information as possible to be made public. "It’s not enough for me as president to have confidence in this program. The american people must also trust them." A balance between security and protection of the private sphere is necessary, he stressed. He also pays attention to how these issues are viewed outside the u.S.: "american leadership in the world depends on the example of american democracy and openness."
In the future, the rules for collecting telephone data should become less simple. The procedures in the secret court, which allows the covert evaluation of communications via telephone lines and the internet, are also to be changed. So far, judges seem to value the safety of burgers more than their rights, obama says.
The NSA, which has come under fire, should set up an agency to look after citizens’ rights and data protection. The ministry of justice will publish its legal assessment of the laws. And the intelligence services should provide better information on websites.
In addition, experts independent of the government are to evaluate the monitoring programs and submit an interim report with recommendations within 60 days. He wants to have a final report by the end of the year. "It’s right to ask questions about surveillance, especially as technology changes every aspect of our lives", obama said.
The revelation of the global internet surveillance by the US secret service NSA had caused concern internationally, but increasingly also in the USA. Internet users were left with the impression that the monitoring service could collect personal data as it wished. In the US house of representatives, a bipartisan initiative to curb intelligence-gathering narrowly failed. Obama had always defended the NSA’s actions as legal and important for security and the fight against terrorism. He did not deviate from this line even on friday.
The whistleblower edward snowden, who had triggered the scandal with his disclosures, had fled abroad and found asylum in russia for the time being. Obama angrily canceled a meeting with russian president vladimir putin because of it.
Obama urged snowden in press conference to face u.S. Justice if he thought his actions had been legal. "I do not think mr. Snowden is a patriot", said obama. But after his revelations, politicians had to deal with the criticism of the surveillance programs. "I think people have questions about these programs." Snowden accelerated the discussion, but endangered the security of the united states in the process.
It was obama’s first press conference in just over a quarter of a year and his second-to-last appearance before a week-long family vacation.