President Obama announces surveillance reforms: key points for businesses

By Aravind Swaminathan, Jim Halpert and Michelle J Anderson

In a speech that garnered worldwide attention, US president Barack Obama has announced important reforms in the ways the US government will gather, store, use and retain signals-related information. These changes will quickly affect many companies, both in the US and globally. In this alert, we identify some of the most significant changes found in the reforms announced by the president last week.

Obama’s announcement comes in the wake of highly publicised intelligence leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, as well as a December 2013 report from the president’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, which proposed more than 40 changes to how the US government collects, stores, uses and retains signals intelligence.

Focusing on the need to balance transparency regarding government surveillance with the need for a strong counter-intelligence programme that can effectively protect US interests, the president directed intelligence agencies and the Department of Justice to implement the following changes to its signals intelligence programmes…

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