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Civil liberties advocates not impressed with Obama's reforms

Friday - 1/17/2014, 3:20pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- One of the leading civil liberties advocates in Congress isn't impressed with the changes outlined by President Barack Obama today in the government's surveillance programs.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul calls it "the same unconstitutional program with a new configuration." He says he'll continue to challenge the National Security Agency's spying programs.

Obama today called for an end to government control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans. And he wants intelligence agencies to get court permission before getting access to the records. Paul calls it "the same unconstitutional program with a new configuration."

Other civil libertarians agree that Obama didn't go far enough to protect privacy and prevent abuse. Steven W. Hawkins of Amnesty International USA says, "Shifting the storage of information does not address the fundamental problem" -- the collection of the data in the first place.

Many Democrats said Obama had made some important reforms, but didn't go far enough. Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York said Obama needs to "follow through" on his promises. Nadler said lawmakers will keep pushing for safeguards against "bulk surveillance of everyday Americans."

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215-a-12-(President Barack Obama, in speech at the Justice Department)-"keep us safe"-President Obama says the steps he's ordering aim to strike a difficult balance -- between security and privacy. (17 Jan 2014)

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219-a-08-(President Barack Obama, in speech at the Justice Department)-"penetrate digital communications"-President Obama says it's time to reform the NSA's surveillance programs, but it would be wrong to end them. (17 Jan 2014)

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GRAPHICSBANK: Barack Obama headshot, as US President, speaking about review of national security, Washington, DC, on texture, partial graphic (17 Jan 2014)

APPHOTO DCCK110: President Barack Obama talks about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Justice Department in Washington.Seeking to calm a furor over U.S. surveillance, the president called for ending the government's control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and immediately ordered intelligence agencies to get a secretive court's permission before accessing the records. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (17 Jan 2014)

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