2013 has been a hard year for the White House. It's been working overtime to try and manage the PR nightmare sparked by Edward Snowden's NSA whistleblowing -- fighting the outcry of angry citizens, CEOs and major tech firms. President Barack Obama eventually created a panel to review the government's surveillance programs and propose changes that will help restore public's trust. Today, the group's recommendations are in, and in summary, they aren't too surprising: don't spy on your citizens.
The report's most public facing suggestion mandates ending the NSA's habit of collecting US phone call metadata. The agency would still be allowed to collect some records, of course, but the panel suggests that this data be maintained by a private third party, or the phone companies themselves. More importantly, this data would only be accessible with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. That's hardly the panel's only critique, either: the 308 page document actually makes a total of 46 recommendations. It suggests putting international spy operations under heavier scrutiny, for instance, and says that decisions to monitor such communications need to be made by the Commander in Chief -- not the nation's intelligence agencies. It even suggests major tweak to the NSA's structure, asking the president to consider making the next Director of the NSA a civilian.