BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Lawmakers are split over whether Internet and cell phone surveillance is the right thing to do.
The Obama Administration says the programs have made Americans safer.
Mary Bubala reports–one Maryland senator agrees, but wants better oversight.
With every keystroke, government analysts have been secretly mining the servers of U.S. Internet companies, tracking the emails and photos of foreign nationals, in an effort to fight terrorism.
The program, called “PRISM,” targets what foreign nationals are doing online, not U.S. citizens.
“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” the president said.
Friday, President Obama made his first public comments about the surveillance programs that he says are legal and necessary.
“You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said.
Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin tells WJZ he supports surveillance if its aimed at a specific threat.
“We need intelligence information to protect us against terrorist threats, so that’s very important that we have the tools that are necessary. But it has to be used with caution and care,” he said.
Some privacy advocates and lawmakers say the government collecting phone records of millions of Americans goes too far.
“It’s a huge overreach, and it’s an abuse of the powers that have been given to the government,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, (R) Wisconsin.
The chairman of House Intelligence Committee says the surveillance helped thwart a “significant” terrorist attack within the last few years.
But even Senator Cardin believes the surveillance programs should be reviewed.
“I want to take a look at it, obviously this is of a concern. I want to make sure it’s properly used,” Sen. Cardin said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold hearings soon.
Right now, a federal court reviews the surveillance programs every 90 days, and top lawmakers receive regular secret briefings on it.
Congress authorized the Domestic Surveillance Program after 9-11.