As Obama Announces Key NSA Reforms, Unaddressed Issues Remain

Obamacare ObamaWhite House (Pete Souza) [Public domain]

President Obama is calling on Congress to pass new legislation preventing the National Security Agency from indiscriminately collecting and storing mass amounts of phone data on US citizens, while a key Silicon Valley executive calls the effort “not enough.”

“I’m confident that [the proposal] allows us to do what is necessary in order to deal with the dangers of a terrorist threat but does so in a way that addresses some of the concerns that people have raised,” Obama said, speaking during a news conference at The Hague in The Netherlands. European leaders had been particularly critical of the NSA, who they claim had been spying on their leaders.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg: Efforts to control NSA “simply are not enough”

The New York Times first reported late Monday the Obama administration would attempt to rein in the NSA.  However, according to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was one of several Silicon Valley executives to meet with Obama on Friday when he detailed the plan, the reforms “simply are not enough.”

“People around the globe deserve to know that their information is secure and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will keep urging the U.S. government to be more transparent about its practices and more protective of civil liberties,” he said in a statement after the meeting.  On March 13 Zuckerberg wrote in a post that “The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.”

What was unaddressed in proposal is key

What the Obama plan leaves unaddressed is the NSA’s ability to use technology firms such as Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) as a platform to load spy software on unsuspecting computers, the NSA’s ability to infect the cell phones of US citizens with spyware that enables the NSA to see through the camera phone, listen to face-to-face conversations picked up on the phone’s microphone and track the individual movements of US citizens through he GPS tracking system. Also apparently left unaddressed are any penalties US government officials might face if they violate the laws.

FISA judge accused NSA of lying as monitoring and enforcement of restrictions an issue

The proposal addresses the narrow issue of the NSA’s indiscriminate mass collection of phone data.  Under the Obama proposal, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the NSA, would need to approve the monitoring of phone calls based on the target having likely ties to suspected terrorist activities. FISA court Judge Richard Leon has accused the NSA of lying in the past regarding their activities, and the independent monitoring and enforcement of any laws designed to reign in the NSA has been an issue.



About the Author

Mark Melin
Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)valuewalk.com