Fact sheet: Review of U.S. signals intelligence
In the latter half of 2013 and early 2014, the United States government undertook a broad-ranging and unprecedented review of our signals intelligence programs, led by the White House with relevant departments and agencies across the government. In addition to our own intensive work, the review process drew on input from key stakeholders, including Congress, the tech community, civil society, foreign partners, the Review Group on Intelligence and Communication Technologies, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and others. The administration's review examined how, in light of new and changing technologies, we can use our intelligence capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures. On January 17, 2014, the president delivered a speech at the Department of Justice to announce the outcomes of this review process.
In that speech, the president made clear that the men and women of the U.S. intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow those protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people and are not abusing authorities. When mistakes have been made, they have corrected those mistakes. But for our intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the American people, and people around the world. To that end, the administration has developed a path forward that we believe should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, while preserving important tools that keep us safe, and that addresses significant questions that have been raised overseas. Today the president announced the administration's adoption of a series of concrete and substantial reforms that the administration will adopt administratively or seek to codify with Congress, to include a majority of the recommendations made by the Review Group.
New presidential policy directive
Today, President Obama issued a new presidential policy directive for our signals intelligence activities, at home and abroad. This directive lays out new principles that govern how we conduct signals intelligence collection, and strengthen how we provide executive branch oversight of our signals intelligence activities. It will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances; our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of our companies; and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. And we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis, so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by thepresident's senior national security team.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
Since the review began, we've declassified over 40 opinions and orders of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which provides judicial review of some of our most sensitive intelligence activities including the Section 702 program targeting foreign individuals overseas and the Section 215 telephone metadata program. Going forward, the president directed the Director of National Intelligence, in consultation with the attorney general, to annually review for the purpose of declassification any future opinions of the court with broad privacy implications, and to report to the president and Congress on these efforts. To ensure that the court hears a broader range of privacy perspectives, the president called on Congress to authorize the establishment of a panel of advocates from outside the government to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the court.