Obama surveillance proposal will change little: Julian Assange

Last Updated: Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 14:30

Washington: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday criticised US President Barack Obama`s proposal to limit the controversial surveillance programme, saying his plan is not concrete and will not change much.

In a bid to allay global outrage after the leak of the US snooping programme, Obama yesterday put an end to the surveillance of "foreign leaders of friendly nations".

Obama also announced several proposals to change how the agency collects surveillance on Americans and foreign governments.
Describing the Obama`s speech as embarrassing, Assange said, "We heard a lot of lies here in this speech by Obama."

"I think it`s embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing," Assange said.

He it is clear that Obama would not have unveiled his new spying reforms had it not been for leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden other whistleblowers.

"Those national whistleblowers have forced this debate, this president has been dragged, kicking and screaming, to today`s address. He has been very reluctant to make any concrete reforms, and, unfortunately, today, we also see very few concrete reforms.

"What we see is kicking off the ball into the congressional grass, kicking it off into panels of lawyers that he will report -- that he will instruct to report back at some stage in the future," Assange said.

"My greatest concern looking at this broader package, is that there is -- what was not said. There was no restriction on secret law.

"The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court, which he named as the court that will review some of this process, is known to be the most secret captive court in the United States that`s producing secret judge-made law," he alleged.

"As far as the outside world is concerned, the United States has become an archipelago of coercion, where any person you are dealing with in business, at Google, or Facebook, or Yahoo!, or at a telecommunications company might have become secretly an agent of the National Security Agency, because they`re ordered to do so by the FISA court, and they`re forced to keep that secret, all through the mechanism of national security letters," Assange said.

PTI

First Published: Saturday, January 18, 2014 - 14:30

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