Public comments reveal displeasure over US spying

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The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies released Nov. 1 public comments about the National Security Agency’s collection of intelligence on U.S. citizens.

Among the almost 250 comments received between Sept. 4 and Oct. 4 were testimonies from Human Rights Watch, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and numerous professors from all over the nation.

“The U.S. government’s ability to promote Internet freedom at the global level has been deeply undermined by revelations about U.S. surveillance programs,” said the Human Rights Watch statement.

The media law committees of both the state of New York and New York City bar associations added, “We must find ways to preserved essential individual privacy, where people can interact beyond the unwelcome gaze of their government.”

Most of the comments to the review group, some submitted in Spanish, chastised the government for abuse of powers.

“Richard Nixon was impeached for a fraction of what has been revealed,” wrote commenter Carlos Carreno.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., commented to express his intentions to introduce the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. The bill will require the government to report the general categories of information collected on U.S. citizens as well as the number of citizens’ information actually reviewed by federal agents.

The Constitution Project urged the government to reform the Patriot Act to prohibit bulk collection of communications metadata and promote transparency.

The American Civil Liberties Union submitted a 25-page comment making similar recommendations.

The review group was created in August to examine and provide recommendations on how the U.S. may “employ its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects out national security…while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties.”

Interest in technological privacy arose when Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked documents in June. The documents revealed the United States was spying on Verizon phone records. Later, other documents came to light about U.S. Internet spying and phone tapping.

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Cybersecurity, Department of Defense (DOD), Departments, Edward Snowden, National Security Agency, Tech
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