US Data collection policies change just before Merkel’s return to Washington

World Today

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday to discuss everything from the conflict in Ukraine to intelligence sharing to prevent terrorism. The relationship between Merkel and the White House is still recovering, after revelations of U.S. spying on Merkel’s personal cell phone. The White House is working on a series of reforms to its data collection programs and just days ahead of her visit, it rolled out new changes. CCTV America’s White House Correspondent Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.

US Data collection policies change just before Merkel’s return to Washington

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday to discuss everything from the conflict in Ukraine to intelligence sharing to prevent terrorism. The relationship between Merkel and the White House is still recovering, after revelations of U.S. spying on Merkel's personal cell phone. The White House is working on a series of reforms to its data collection programs and just days ahead of her visit, it rolled out new changes. CCTV America's White House Correspondent Jessica Stone reported this story from Washington, D.C.

One year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of reforms to American spy programs.

After former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed the U.S. was collecting mass quantities of cell phone data on Americans along with a number of world leaders.

Four months later when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House, revelations that the U.S. spied on her personal cell phone were still straining the relationship.

“The situation is such that we have a few difficulties yet to overcome so this is where there is going to be a dialogue between our two countries,” Merkel said.

While President Obama said he stopped spying on Merkel, it’s still unclear which world leaders’ cell phones remain subject to U.S. surveillance.

Now a year later, the Paris terror attacks underscore the importance of intelligence gathering and sharing.

The White House has rolled out a set of small changes, less than a week before Merkel returns to Washington.

Bulk data searches are now limited and a court must approve those searches.

The FBI can no longer require indefinite secrecy from those companies it asks for data.

“I think these changes show that the administration would like to move towards more of a transparent model, but still acknowledging that listen, the intelligence community has to do its job,” Allan Friedman, research scientist at George Washington University’s Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute said.

Mass bulk data collection on calls coming in and out of the U.S. will continue.

And foreigners still don’t have the right to address disclosures of their protected information in court.

Legislation on the two issues has stalled in the U.S. Congress, though some privacy advocates believe the White House could unilaterally end the surveillance program.

If Congress doesn’t pass legislation by June first, forcing U.S. companies to collect the data, instead of the government, the program will expire.

“This is also, of course, the most expensive option. I don’t think we’re going to see something as nuanced and fine-tuned a program as this being developed by Congress in the next four months,” Friedman said. “If we we’re going to see a program like this, it would have to come out of the administration.”

According to an administration official, in the coming weeks, the president’s national security team will meet to review its progress towards reforming its surveillance programs. But with the Paris terror attacks fresh on many minds in Washington, there is renewed pressure to widen surveillance; not narrow it.


Ivan Eland addresses German Chancellor Merkel's visit, the debate to arm Ukraine

CCTV's Susan Roberts interviewed Ivan Eland, senior fellow, and the director of the Center on Peace and Liberty in Washington, D.C. Eland discussed what German Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes to accomplish during her visit, Whether she is in favor of arming Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev and the possibility of peace plans with Russia not collapsing as before.