More than a year after President
Under changes made public Tuesday, information that is not relevant to a national security matter must be deleted from databases after five years.
Data may be held longer if it falls under one of six broadly defined areas: counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, cybersecurity, threats to U.S. or allied armed forces or personnel, and transnational crime.
The modest reforms did not curtail the NSA's controversial bulk collection of domestic telephone calling records, one of the classified programs that was exposed by
The new policy also took a small step toward lifting gag orders on U.S. telecommunications and other companies that are required to hand over data records related to a national security investigation.
Companies that receive so-called national security letters from the FBI have been forbidden from making the requests public.
Under the changes, a company can publicly disclose the request after three years unless a mid-level manager at the FBI objects on national security grounds.
White House counter-terrorism advisor Lisa Monaco said U.S. intelligence collection should take into account that "all persons have legitimate privacy interests" in how their personal information is handled.
"At the same time," Monaco said in a statement, "we must ensure that our intelligence community has the resources and authorities necessary for the United States to advance its national security and foreign policy interests and to protect its citizens and the citizens of its allies and partners from harm."
The incremental adjustments seem to show that U.S. counter-terrorism officials have come to rely heavily on the collection programs, and were reluctant to revamp them despite Obama's pledge to review them in a speech at the
Critics of the NSA surveillance program believed the changes didn't go far enough.
Elizabeth Goitein, an expert on government secrecy and co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice at the
But the Snowden disclosures "revealed that we need a fundamental course correction," Goitein said in a statement.
"As long as the government is collecting Americans' telephone records, listening to their phone calls, and reading their emails without any suspicion of wrongdoing, the gulf between our constitutional values and the government's surveillance practices remains," she said.
Wyden, who sits on the
"This dragnet collection does not make our country safer, it violates the privacy of millions of Americans, and the president can end it right now," Wyden said.