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Obama´s plan to overhaul NSA surveillance program must still face U.S. Congress.

The Americas Security News.- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with executives from leading technology companies, including Apple, Twitter, and Google on Dec. 17, 2913 in Washington, DC. Photo credit to Photographer Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Americas Security News.- President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with executives from leading technology companies, including Apple, Twitter, and Google on Dec. 17, 2913 in Washington, DC. Photo credit to Photographer Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama´s plan to reduce the government’s mass collection of American phone data shakes up U.S. spying practices amid a world-wide firestorm over revelations about the nation’s surveillance programs.

But Mr. Obama, promising a continued review, left large swaths of the surveillance programs unchanged, and many of his proposals for overhauling them still face congressional debate and approval.

The overhauls focus primarily on three types of spy operations:mass collection of foreign communications , mass collection of phone records and the monitoring of foreign leaders. The overhaul also includes changes to the court that oversees NSA surveillance.

The proposed changes are:

1) stop storing huge amounts of telephone data in NSA computers

2) Intelligence officials now must seek approval from a secret national-security court before conducting government searches of a person’s phone data

3) data searches have been scaled back, so that investigators may only examine personal connections that are two steps removed from a target, instead of three

4) new privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens and ended government spying on heads of state of close American allies, though monitoring leaders’ staff members wasn’t prohibited

5) a new process to evaluate surveillance operations yearly, weighing costs and benefits of monitoring a particular individual

6) a continuing review of classified opinions of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to determine if future opinions can be made public

7) for non-U.S. citizens, that surveillance will only be done for national-security purposes, such as counter-spying, counterterrorism and cybersecurity

8) shortened the amount of time the NSA can retain communications data on non-U.S. citizens

Many of the changes Mr. Obama announced, including the issue of telephone databases, leave considerable leeway in their implementation. Time will tell.