White House Review Slams NSA Metadata Spying Program

The White House released a critical report on the NSA's data collection programs, suggesting increased regulation and urging President Obama to end the government's practice of logging the metadata from Americans' phone calls.

The report, written by five legal and intelligence experts, also recommends that information gathered about Americans be controlled by private groups, not the government, and be handed over only upon receiving a court order. Decisions to spy on world leaders should be made by the president and his advisors, the report said, not intelligence officials. Limits were also suggested for the amount of spying done on your regular, run-of-the mill foreigners, not just foreign leaders. In total, 46 changes were recommended.

From the Washington Post:

The 200-page report's 40-plus recommendations, also include barring NSA from asking companies to build "backdoors" into their software so that the government may gain access to encrypted communications. The NSA would also be prevented from undermining global encryption standards and prohibited from stockpiling "zero day" hacking tools that can be used to penetrate computer systems, and in some cases, damage or destroy them, according to the individuals, who were not authorized to speak on the record.

The panel also suggested moving the NSA's information assurance directorate, which is in charge of protecting classified government computer systems, under a separate entity. The idea there would be to separate a clearly defensive mission from the offensive side of NSA, which works to gain access to networks overseas for espionage, and which can be used to enable a military cyber attack on an adversary's computer system.

The report's release date was scheduled for next month, but was moved up amid increasing criticism of the NSA, including this week's ruling by a federal judge that its phone data-mining operations likely violated the Constitution. In January, the White House will announce which suggestions it will accept.

The full report is below.

NSA Reform Report