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Edward Snowden leaks: Barack Obama to announce changes to NSA electronic spy programs

President Barack Obama is to announce changes to NSA’s electronic spy programs after revelations made by Edward Snowden.

The president aims to restore public confidence in the intelligence community.

Barack Obama is expected to create a public advocate at the secretive court that approves intelligence collection.

The president’s proposals come hours after UK media reports that the US has collected and stored almost 200 million text messages per day across the globe.

According to the Guardian newspaper and Channel Four News, the National Security Agency (NSA) program extracted and stored data from the SMS messages to gather location information, contacts and financial data.

The report is the latest in a series of revelations from files leaked by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor charged in the US with espionage and currently a fugitive in Russia.

Barack Obama’s speech on Friday at Department of Justice comes after a five-person White House panel given the job of reviewing US electronic spying programs in the wake of Edward Snowden’s disclosures presented their report in December.

President Barack Obama is to announce changes to NSA’s electronic spy programs after revelations made by Edward Snowden photo

President Barack Obama is to announce changes to NSA’s electronic spy programs after revelations made by Edward Snowden

Among their recommendations was the creation of a public advocate position at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), where judges have approved the mass spying program. Currently, only the US government is represented in front of FISC judges.

In details leaked to various US media by the White House, Barack Obama is expected to endorse that position, as well as extending some privacy protections for foreigners.

He is also expected to include increased oversight of how the US monitors foreign leaders and to limit how long some data can be stored.

However Barack Obama is not expected to endorse one of the panel’s headline recommendations – shifting the storage of phone records from the NSA to the telecommunications firm or a third party where it can be queried under limited conditions.

He is expected to leave the decision on whether that should be implemented to Congress.

Civil rights and privacy groups were wary ahead of the speech.

The Guardian report describes an NSA program called Dishfire, which analyses SMS messages to extract information including contacts from missed call alerts, location from roaming and travel alerts, financial information from bank alerts and payments and names from electronic business cards,

It also alleges that the NSA’s UK counterpart GCHQ searched the NSA’s database for information regarding people in the UK.