Scoring Obama's NSA reforms (spoiler: it's not good)

Earlier this week, EFF published a scorecard for rating Obama's NSA reforms. Now that the reforms have been announced, it's time to measure them up. They don't fare well, I'm afraid. Here's a roundup of commentary from privacy leaders around the world, expressing disappointment (if not surprise) at Obama's half-hearted reining in of the surveillance state.

3. No data retention mandate.

Score: 0

Obama’s review group recommended that the telephone metadata surveillance program be taken away from the government, suggesting that a third party or even telecom companies themselves be responsible for maintaining a searchable list of our calling records. This approach—mandating companies act as Big Brother’s little helper—won’t alleviate the serious privacy concerns with maintaining a digital record of every call we make. We had hoped that Obama would make clear that he would reject any form of mandatory data retention. Instead, Obama acknowledged some of the concerns with a data retention mandate but called for “options for a new approach that can match the capabilities and fill the gaps that the Section 215 program was designed to address, without the government holding this metadata itself.” He never specifically rejected the idea of forcing companies or a third party to hold this data, and so he does not receive a point in this category.


5. Stop undermining Internet security.

Score: 0

The NSA’s systematic efforts to weaken and sabotage the encryption and security technology make us all less safe. But in contrast to his review group’s recommendations to stop those practices, Obama was silent on the issue. That silence is disappointing, as this is a critical problem that has not just undermined the privacy of millions around the world, but poisoned our collective trust in institutions that depend most on it. Zero points.

Rating Obama’s NSA Reform Plan: EFF Scorecard Explained

Notable Replies

  1. When I was a teacher, if a student scored as poorly as that on a test, I was advised to get in touch with the parents so they could intervene at home, or at least would be less surprised when a failing grade was reported at the end of the term.

    Who do I need to call about Mr. Obama's recent debacle?

  2. nofare says:

    Haha. This warrants a post? Really, a review card on his speech?

    No one expected anything from that speech. No one expects any reform actually, mostly thanks to the public's (the minority that cares about the story) and the "Left"'s blind adoration of the amazing faux-courage of our favorite faux-heroes and real status-quo enforcing team of Gatekeepers, The Guardian, Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras, Schneier, and co.

    Drink as much of those people's Kool-Aid as you please, peeps, but don't pretend to be scared, disappointed or pissed off later when Obama doesn't score high on your pathetically pointless "NSA reform card". You're getting what you deserve.

  3. Would you care to advise us what changes in behavior we need to make to "deserve" better?

  4. Rindan says:

    I'm not even a little bit shocked. The really depressing thing is that 2016 isn't going to bring any "Change" either. We are going to pick between whoever the American Taliban party nominates or Hillary is going to carry on with Bush's fifth term. Either way, American Taliban or Bush the Third, nothing is going to change. My jerk off fantasy is that a democrat with balls appears out of nowhere to disrupt Hillary's coronation and runs as dully moderate in most things, but runs a vehemently anti-police state campaign. If a democrat had a pair, they would stand up, point to Hillary, and declare her Bush the Third for being a cowardly police state croney. They win the primary, and then strip libertarian leaning Republican moderates away from whatever pro-police state bigot the American Taliban party selects.

    I know it is just a fantasy.

  5. Nelsie says:

    So, you're commenting on a post in a left-leaning blog criticising Obama's speech with the phrase "Left's blind adoration"?

    When you had your irony gland removed, did you notice any effects on your cognitive abilities?

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