White House Releases NSA Reform Report, Recommends "Aggressive" Program Changes

On Wednesday afternoon, the White House made public the official recommendations for the National Security Agency's surveillance programs in the years to come — a review conducted by an independent board on President Obama's request. The board has recommended dozens of reforms to the controversial programs, including advising the NSA to give away the extensive data the agency has collected from the phone calls of regular Americans. It's estimated that's about one trillion records.

This summer, after former analyst Edward Snowden sensationally released hundreds of thousands of classified documents — essentially leaking the shocking extent of NSA spying programs — Obama swore to implement checks and balances on the programs. The aim, ostensibly, was to ensure transparency, but it's no secret that the White House wants to rescue America's credibility and the federal government's reputation to boot.

"It’s not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs," Obama said at the time. "The American people need to have confidence in them as well."

The reforms would include the NSA's phone records being handed over to a third party, such as phone companies. It would also ban the NSA from undermining global encryption standards (ya know, as they've been doing for a while) and destroying potentially catastrophic hacking tools (think the Internet equivalent of a nuclear weapon.)

The offensive and defensive sectors of the NSA, at present working together, would be clearly separated under the reforms. The goal is to separate "defensive" tactics from "offensive" measures more clearly.

The White House can pick and choose which of these reforms to implement, if any, and WaPo indicates that it has little intention of actually severely amending the NSA's programs. But the backlash against the surveillance measures has intensified recently: a federal judge indicated that the NSA's programs were unconstitutional by nature, and at a routine Obamacare promo event Tuesday, tech giants including Google, Apple, and Facebook grilled the President on why he thought it necessary to undermine their companies.