Obama bans spying on leaders of U.S. allies, scales back NSA program

By Steve Holland, Mark Hosenball and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama banned U.S. eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies on Friday and began reining in the vast collection of Americans’ phone data in a series of reforms triggered by Edward Snowden’s revelations. In a major speech, Obama took steps to reassure Americans and foreigners alike that the United States will take into account privacy concerns highlighted by former spy contractor Snowden’s damaging disclosures about the sweep of monitoring activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). “The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected, even as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies maintain the tools they need to keep us safe,” he said. While the address was designed to fend off concerns that U.S. surveillance has gone too far, Obama’s measures were relatively limited.

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