By Linh Bui

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Major changes are coming to how the U.S. government handles surveillance.

The president orders the National Security Agency to transform the way it stores and accesses digital information that’s collected from millions of Americans.

Linh Bui explains the president’s reforms and has reaction.

There’s been growing criticism over how the U.S. government gathers surveillance. Friday, the president announced he’s putting limits on the NSA.

President Obama orders the National Security Agency to change the way it does business.

“The reforms I’m proposing today should give the American people greater confidence that their rights are being protected,” the president said.

WJZ gives you unprecedented access: a rare look at the inner workings of the security agency located outside Laurel.

Video shows the NSA searching for terrorist threats using a vast database containing the metadata of every phone call made in the U.S.

But the president says the agency now needs a judge’s approval to access that data, and he no longer wants the NSA to store the information. He’s asking the intelligence community and the attorney general to figure out who should.

“I believe it is important that the capability that this program is designed to meet is preserved,” Obama said.

The president’s changes come after months of debate over Americans’ privacy and how the NSA gathers intelligence.

Former NSA contractor and one-time Maryland resident Edward Snowden first exposed the secret surveillance program.

Some in the intelligence community worry changes could compromise national security.

“A lot of the criticism you’ll see about the changes to come will be whether or not we are inadvertently blinding ourselves and slowing our ability to ferret out networks and plots that could threaten the United States,” said Juan Zarate, CBS News national security analyst.

Related Story: NSA Whistleblower From Md. Gives His Take On The President’s Speech

There could be even more changes. The president is directing a yearly review of U.S. intelligence capabilities.

There are also new guidelines for spying overseas. The president says the U.S. government will not monitor the leaders of close U.S. allies.

The president says he will consult with Congress to see their views.

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