The Guardian reports: A review panel created by President Obama to guide reforms to US government surveillance did not discuss any changes to the National Security Agency’s controversial activities at its first meeting, according to two participants.
The panel, which met for the first time this week in the Truman Room of the White House conference center, was touted by Obama in August as a way for the government to consider readjusting its surveillance practices after hearing outsiders’ concerns.
But two attendees of the Monday meeting said the discussion was dominated by the interests of major technology firms, and the session did not address making any substantive changes to the controversial mass collection of Americans’ phone data and foreigners’ internet communications, which can include conversations with Americans.
Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and an attendee, told the Guardian the he “did not hear much discussion” of changes to the bulk surveillance activities.
“My fear is it’s a simulacrum of meaningful reform,” said Sascha Meinrath, a vice president of the New America Foundation, an influential Washington think tank, and the director of the Open Technology Institute, who also attended. “Its function is to bleed off pressure, without getting to the meaningful reform.” [Continue reading…]