Obama’s surveillance legacy

De toekomst met Donald Trump als president belooft sowieso weinig goeds. Maar van zijn voorganger erft hij wel een stevig uitgebouwde surveillance state met een heel arsenaal aan maatregelen die een serieuze bedreiging vormen voor de rechten en vrijheden van Amerikaanse burgers. Zeker als ze in handen van een ongeleid projectiel terecht komen.

In his farewell address earlier this month, outgoing President Obama warned that US citizens “must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.” And digital privacy advocates such as myself welcomed his call to “reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.”

Yet Mr. Obama’s most enduring legacy may be the establishment of the modern US surveillance state. During his eight years in office, Obama has dramatically expanded the reach of US government surveillance, with scores of new revelations of previously unknown surveillance initiatives continuing to regularly come to light.

Just two days after his Jan. 10 farewell speech, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration had granted sweeping surveillance powers to the incoming Trump presidency – dramatically expanding 17 government agencies legal authority to spy on US citizens.

This schizophrenia between rhetoric and action has plagued the Obama administration, but in this case, also directly undermines the very values the exiting president has called upon the nation to so vociferously support.

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