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Top 10 NSA Advisory Board Recommendations

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Now that many Americans are sufficiently freaked out about the NSA's domestic surveillance, a few new recommendations might help average citizens keep their cool.

A White House advisory committee, perhaps catching a whiff of terror sweat from the American people, is officially recommending 46 changes to the National Security Agency's surveillance tactics.

Here are 10 of the most important recommendations:

1. Change FISA to Limit Orders.

The NSA advisory board -- offically called the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies -- recommends that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has been used to authorize surveillance on domestic soil, be changed to limit spying orders to instances when they are:

  • Reasonable in scope, and
  • Based on "reasonable grounds" that the investigation is intended to protect against "international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."

2. Prohibit Mass Data Collecting.

The NSA has been collecting metadata from our phones and tech companies en masse, and one federal judge has ruled that it may be unconstitutional. That's probably why the advisory board recommends against it.

3. Commission a Study on Metadata.

Don't know what metadata is? Neither does Washington, which is why they need this study.

4. More Transparency.

The Review Group also recommends that the government publicly produce general data on the number of data requests and surveillance orders they make.

5. Keep Numbers Secret Only If...

The magnitude of data collection is only recommended to be kept secret if:

6. Create a New Approval Process.

The intelligence agencies are recommended to adhere to a new process created by the president which would limit intelligence collection -- including spying on foreign leaders.

7. Create New Spy Software.

The Committee recommends looking into creating software to allow the NSA to "more easily conduct targeted information acquisition" instead of just trolling the bulk of all Americans' data.

8. Foster International Intelligence-Gathering Coalitions.

The United States should partner together with "closely allied nations" to discuss intelligence gathering guidelines and when not to spy on each other's citizens, the board advises.

9. Have the NSA Director Confirmed by the Senate.

The board recommends that, like federal judges, the NSA director should be confirmed by the Senate.

10. Create a New Privacy Board.

Coined as the Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board, this proposed agency would be created to provide oversight and legal compliance for the nation's intelligence agencies.

These are only recommendations, and it is uncertain if or when they will be acted upon.

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