US, UK Want Easy Access to Private Information

US, UK Want Easy Access to Private InformationUS, UK Want Easy Access to Private Information

Western intelligence agencies must be able to intercept any communications in order to thwart potential terror attacks being hatched by extremist groups, and this must be done without violating citizens’ rights, US President Barack Obama and British prime minister David Cameron said in a joint press conference at the White House on Friday.

The two leaders answered questions about how far the governments could go in violating privacy as concerns surrounding recent terrorist activity grow, RT reported.

Cameron said British authorities do not need “backdoors” into the websites and communication protocols used for online conversations. “We believe in very clear front doors through legal processes that should help keep our countries safe.”

Obama fell short of endorsing that platform during Friday’s meeting, but said the US and UK governments must ensure national security is preserved along with the privacy of American and British citizens.

Cameron has taken heat from privacy proponents in recent days for advocating a plan that would assure UK investigators are able to pry through the digital conversations of suspected terrorists by banning encryption.

“Given the urgent and growing danger of cyberthreats, we have expanded our collaboration on cybersecurity,” Obama said, adding that he believes technology companies would want to see potential “tragedies” prevented.

Cameron also said the two countries would “deepen cybersecurity cooperation” in an effort to “keep pace with new threats.”

  US Spying Program

The White House conference was held amid the release of a report by the Wall Street Journal that claimed the US justice department maintained a secret database of Americans’ international phone calls for more than a decade before ending the program in 2013. The newspaper said the spying program was uncovered in a court document filed Thursday.

The paper cited a drug enforcement Administration official as saying in a filing that the agency had used administrative subpoenas rather than federal court orders to scoop up metadata of calls “determined to have a demonstrated nexus to international drug trafficking and related criminal activities.”

A US justice department official confirmed the program had been suspended in September 2013 before being shut down. “The program was suspended in September 2013 and ultimately terminated,” Marc Raimondi said.

The metadata gathered covers information such as the number dialed and the duration of a call but not the content of the conversations themselves.

In 2006, USA Today revealed that the National Security Agency was secretly gathering data from major operators on communications between parties in the US and overseas.