Snowden: Obama’s plan to reform NSA spying is a turning point

The NSA whistleblower says the latest development “marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA.”

Edward Snowden Screenshot by CNET

The person who triggered the furor over the National Security Agency's spying activities has given a tentative thumb's up to plans to change some of the agency's controversial methods.

In a statement released Wednesday through the American Civil Liberties Union, Edward Snowden called plans to rein in the National Security Agency's bulk record collection a "turning point." The former NSA consultant who leaked a series of documents detailing the NSA's activities also said that the latest efforts by the White House and Congress mark "the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public's seat at the table of government."

In January, President Obama revealed a proposal under which the NSA would no longer house the phone record data and would require a court order to access it from a third-party.

Congress has been working on efforts to prohibit the NSA's bulk collection of e-mail and phone records of US citizens. Last October, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) sponsored a bill called the USA Freedom Act that would end the "eavesdropping, dragnet collection, and online monitoring" by the NSA and other government agencies.

The White House reportedly plans to announce a proposal this week that could leave customer phone records in the hands of the phone companies rather than putting them under the purview of the NSA. The agency would then need a court order to see specific records.

Snowden's full statement on the ACLU Web site appears as follows:

"I believed that if the NSA's unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans was known, it would not survive the scrutiny of the courts, the Congress, and the people.

The very first open and adversarial court to ever judge these programs has now declared them 'Orwellian' and 'likely unconstitutional.' In the USA Freedom Act, Congress is considering historic, albeit incomplete reforms. And President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.

This is a turning point, and it marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public's seat at the table of government."

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