Privacy Law

Obama: NSA revelations about inadvertent data collection show 'oversight worked'

Responding to revelations this week that the National Security Agency may have unlawfully collected thousands of emails from Americans, President Barack Obama said the news demonstrates safeguards are in place.

“The point is, all these safeguards, checks, audits, (and) oversight worked,” Obama told CNN’s New Day in an exclusive interview that went live Friday morning.

Obama insisted he’s confident that the NSA isn’t “trying to abuse this program or listen in on people’s email.”

The president, however, acknowledged there are legitimate concerns about surveillance technology. “There’s no doubt that, for all the work that’s been done to protect the American people’s privacy, the capabilities of the NSA are scary to people,” Obama said.

“What I recognize is that we’re going to have to continue to improve the safeguards. And as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies that give people more assurance,” the president said.

See videos from the interview here. Read the transcript here.

In a 2011 opinion, declassified this week, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found unconstitutional a NSA surveillance program that inadvertently collected thousands of emails and other electronic communications between Americans. A month after the FISA court learned of the program and found it to be unconstitutional, the NSA revised its collection procedures to filter out communications most likely to be between Americans. The agency later purged its files of the domestic communications it had already collected.

The CNN interview also included Obama’s remarks on Syria, college costs, a school worker who talked down a gunman, Congress, and his family’s dogs.

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