Increasing confidence overseas
U.S. global leadership demands that we balance our security requirements against our need to maintain trust and cooperation among people and leaders around the world. For that reason, the new presidential guidance lays out principles that govern what we do abroad, and clarifies what we don't do. The United States only uses signals intelligence for legitimate national security purposes, and not for the purpose of indiscriminately reviewing the emails or phone calls of ordinary people.
What we don't do: The United States does not collect intelligence to suppress criticism or dissent. We do not collect intelligence to disadvantage people based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. And we do not collect intelligence to provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies or U.S. commercial sectors.
What we will do: In terms of our bulk collection, we will only use data to meet specific security requirements: counterintelligence, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, cyber security, force protection for our troops and allies, and combating transnational crime, including sanctions evasion.
The president has also decided that we will take the unprecedented step of extending certain protections that we have for the American people to people overseas. He has directed the attorney general and DNI to develop these safeguards, which will limit the duration that we can hold personal information, while also restricting the dissemination of this information.
People around the world regardless of their nationality should know that the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security and takes their privacy concerns into account.
This applies to foreign leaders as well. Given the understandable attention that this issue has received, the president has made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies. And he has instructed his national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward.
While our intelligence agencies will continue to gather information about the intentions of governments as opposed to ordinary citizens around the world, in the same way that the intelligence services of every other nation do, we will not apologize because our services may be more effective. But heads of state and government with whom we work closely, on whose cooperation we depend, should feel confident that we are treating them as real partners. The changes the president ordered do just that.
To support our work, the president has directed changes to how our government is organized. The State Department will designate a senior officer to coordinate our diplomacy on issues related to technology and signals intelligence. The administration will appoint a senior official at the White House to implement the new privacy safeguards that we have announced today. And the president has also asked his counselor, John Podesta, to lead a review of big data and privacy. This group will consist of government officials who -- along with the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology -- will reach out to privacy experts, technologists, and business leaders, and look at how the challenges inherent in big data are being confronted by both the public and private sectors, whether we can forge international norms on how to manage this data, and how we can continue to promote the free flow of information in ways that are consistent with both privacy and security.