White House to release report on surveillance reform efforts: Don't expect much to change

White House to release report on surveillance reform efforts: Don't expect much to change

Summary: The White House on Wednesday will release an outside report into the U.S.' mass spying efforts with recommendations for change. But they will be just that: recommendations.

TOPICS: Security
(Image: National Security Agency)

An outside panel's report on U.S. surveillance practices and programs will be released later on Wednesday, White House spokesperson Jay Carney confirmed.

The report, which was set up in the wake of the U.S. mass surveillance leaks that began in June from former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden, includes 46 recommendations for overhauling the U.S. intelligence gathering machine, the Wall Street Journal reports.

It will outline how the National Security Agency operates in order to allay fears over alleged mass spying of American citizens, while balancing privacy and national security.

President Barack Obama has already met members of the panel — which includes Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire — in the White House Situation Room, and is set to announce plans to scale back the U.S. government's surveillance efforts in January.

But here's the kicker. Carney said the administration is still reviewing the report and will decide in due time. "[The President] is not going to make snap judgments," he said. "He's going to look at it and assess it."

Which, ultimately could make this on the most part a pointless exercise.

One of the records, according to The Washington Post, is the scrapping of the phone metadata database, which is slated to include more than 1 trillion records, including millions of records of Americans.

Others include preventing the NSA from asking companies to include "backdoors" in hardware and software, as well as stockpiling exploits that can be used to access machines and devices.

The proof will be in the pudding, as the saying goes. Because right now, the leaks have shown the NSA can do one thing while bending and flouting the law in other areas, and is about as untransparent as it gets. Arguably the White House wants the NSA to continue doing what it's doing — if it wasn't for the leaks, the likelihood of this review wouldn't have even been considered.

As the government goes into public relations panic mode, it has to at least look as though it's doing something — even if the end result is a slap on the wrist and a toning down of intelligence gathering. The NSA still has a job to do at the end of the day. So, don't hold your breath for any sweeping changes that alters the NSA's core mission. 

We'll bring you more as it comes in.

Topic: Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • expect lots of lip and very little service

    • GovReply

      How would you know since everything we do is secret?

      Go back to sleep.
      • seems you gys arent very good at plugging leaks

        The memo detailing how you'd keep doing the same and have some higher up's yak up the pseudo changes is already out.
  • It's a start

    And what happens will depend a lot on what the public says about it. President Obama won't be running for reelection, but lots of members of Congress will be (next year). And the spooks would like a lot less public attention, I'm sure.

    If people don't appear to care, then not much will happen.
    John L. Ries
    • GovComm

      We will tell you whatever it takes for you to feel better.
  • Still Wrong

    Unless they stop collecting the information without a warrant, they will continue to violate the US Constitution.
    • GovReply

      The framers of the constitution did not have computers, no constitutional restrictions are being violated here!
  • What I really expect . . .

    "It will outline how the National Security Agency operates in order to allay fears over alleged mass spying of American citizens, while balancing privacy and national security."

    Considering everything we've learned from the Snowden reports - I don't really expect anything to be allayed as much as spun with generous amounts of doublespeak and vague language. I'd be *very* surprised if they released anything without generous amounts of wiggle room.
    • GovReply

      We will allegedly stop everything we are alleged to be allegedly doing!
  • GovComm

    Collection of meta-data is not unconstitutional.
    Meta-data is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
    Only those with something to hide have anything to be concerned about.
    Your government is here to protect you!

    Have a nice day.
    Be sure to file your taxes early
  • Actually, this administration...

    ...has publicly stated that they are going to work, absolutely non-stop, to insure that factual-information about their illegal, un-Constitutional, and completely ineffective spying programs (which have infuriated the American people, and completely destroyed our international status) will -not- be exposed, again, in the future... no matter how many laws have to be broken... how many people are hurt (or, destroyed)... or, how many lies have to be told.

    After all... THEY (not the people... not the LAW... and certainly not the Constitution...) -RUN- this country.

    Furthermore, the administration would like to thank all of the shills and propagandists that made such fools of themselves trying to demean and discredit all of those that said (and proved with "leaked" facts) that this "spying" was going-on... before... the TRUTH was proven beyond any doubt, and the government's crimes were fully-exposed.
  • Don't expect much to change.

    How's that "Hope and Change" working-out for you now?

    Sad, just sad.