The Washington Times - January 17, 2014, 11:57AM

In announcing changes to U.S. surveillance and data-collection efforts, President Obama on Friday also took some pointed shots at Russia and China, saying a public debate over government spying never would take place in those countries.

“No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs, or Russia to take the privacy concerns of citizens into account,” he said during an address at the Justice Department. “But let us remember that we are held to a different standard precisely because we have been at the forefront in defending personal privacy and human dignity … Having faced down the totalitarian dangers of fascism and communism, the world expects us to stand up for the principle that every person has the right to think and write and form relationships freely — because individual freedom if a wellspring of human progress.”

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After a lengthy review — spurred by leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden — Mr. Obama announced significant changes to U.S. surveillance protocol.

Most notably, he said the NSA now will need a court order before it can query the metadata pool containing phone records of millions of Americans.

Moving forward, the president said that data should be held elsewhere, outside government control. He directed Attorney General Eric Holder and other officials to review options and report back within two months.