Reuters: Obama to Stop NSA Spying on Phone Records Without Legal Reason

We already knew that Obama was set to announce some major NSA reforms today, and now Reuters is reporting ahead of the event that he will prevent the Agency from looking at phone records without a legal reason.

The newswire reports that Obama will announce, during an 11am speech at the Justice Department, that he will transform the telephone metadata program currently in place at the NSA. He will, apparently, explain that "he has decided that the government should not hold the bulk telephone metadata" as well as taking "steps to modify the program so that a judicial finding is required before we query the database."

While an advisory panel has recommended to Obama that the bulk data be controlled by third-party organization, Reuters claims he "will not offer a specific proposal for who should store the data in the future." Indeed, he will apparently describe how, when it comes to the bulk data program, "we can and should be able to preserve those capabilities while addressing the privacy and civil liberties concerns that are raised by the government holding this meta-data."

The announcement, then, seems to signal a desire on Obama's part to quell public outrage at recent privacy intrusions, whilst attempting to retain policies he considers important for national security. That, admittedly, is a tough balance to strike—and one we'll see him tackle when he makes his speech later today. [Reuters]

Image by Whitehouse/Pete Souza