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Barack Obama defends US surveillance programme

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 23:59

Washington: President Barack Obama on Wednesday defended America`s controversial surveillance programme, saying the country is not "going around snooping" and targets "specific areas of concern".

"I can give assurances to the publics in Europe and around the world that we`re not going around snooping at people`s emails or listening to their phone calls. What we try to do is to target very specifically areas of concern," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference in Stockholm along with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

"Having said that, what I`ve said domestically and what I say to international audiences is with changes in technology, with the growth of our capabilities, if our attitude is, because we can do it we should go ahead and do it, then we may not be addressing some of the legitimate concerns and dangers that exist anytime we`re talking about intelligence gathering and surveillance," he said.

Responding to questions on reports of secret American programme of surveillance of Internet and phone, Obama said he has asked his national security team to do, as well as independent persons who are well-known lawyers or civil libertarians or privacy experts to do, is to review everything that the US is doing with the instructions to them that they have to balance the ends with the means.

"Just because we can do something doesn`t mean we should do it," he said.

"There may be situations in which we`re gathering information just because we can that doesn`t help us with our national security, but does raise questions in terms of whether we`re tipping over into being too intrusive with respect to the interactions of other governments," said the US President.

"That is something that we are currently reviewing carefully. We are consulting with the EU (European Union) in this process; we are consulting with other countries in this process and finding out from them what are their areas of specific concern and trying to align what we do in a way that, I think, alleviates some of the public concerns that people may have," he said.

Obama said some of the countries who have been most greatly offended publicly, the US knows privately engage in the same activities directed at his country, or use information that the US has obtained to protect their people.

"We recognise that. I think all of us have to take a very thoughtful approach to this problem," he said.

"I`m the first one to acknowledge that, given advances to technology and the fact that so much of our information flow today is through the Internet, through wireless, that the risks of abuse are greater than they have been in the past," Obama said.


First Published: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 23:59

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