President Obama said Friday that the U.S. must consider extending some of its prohibitions against domestic surveillance to the international community, saying that with global boundaries breaking down, foreigners may be eligible for some of the same protections.
In a year-end press conference Mr. Obama also said he is open to letting private phone companies hold onto their data rather than turn it over to the National Security Agency, which would be a major change to the NSA’s snooping habits right now.
The president said he is reviewing all of the intelligence community’s programs and will announce changes in January, but said he trusts that agencies haven’t gone overboard in looking into Americans’ communications.
“I have confidence in the fact that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance or snooping around,” he said.
Mr. Obama said there are a number of legal protections in place to make sure that those in the U.S. aren’t being targeted. But he said recent outcries from foreign leaders that the U.S. has eavesdropped on their communications could force the country to extend its own protections outside its boundaries.
“In a virtual world, some of these boundaries don’t matter anymore, and just because we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean we should,” he said.