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Panel Recommends Changes To NSA Practices

The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
A report by a presidential task force has recommended changes to the U.S. government's surveillance programs.

Among the highlights, the report says the National Security Agency (NSA) should stop storing U.S. citizens' telephone records and that a court --- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court --should approve searches of phone and Internet data.

The panel also recommends the surveillance of foreign leaders be limited.

The report, made public by the White House on December 18, also said the U.S. government should consider negotiating agreements on spying practices "with a small number of closely allied governments."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration would examine the report carefully.

"Over the next several weeks, we will be reviewing the review group's report and its 46 recommendations as we consider the path forward, including sorting through which recommendations we will implement, which might require further study, and which we will choose not to pursue. It's a substantive, lengthy report. And it merits serious review and assessment," Carney told reporters in Washington.

At the United Nations, the General Assembly passed a resolution on December 18 calling for an end to excessive electronic surveillance and expressing concern at the harm such scrutiny may have on human rights.

The resolution does not name specific countries but comes after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden released details this year of a global spying program by the NSA, sparking international outrage.

The resolution was drafted by Brazil and Germany.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the NSA practices.

The NSA is accused of accessing tens of thousands of French phone records and monitoring phone calls by Merkel and Rousseff.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand - known as the Five Eyes surveillance alliance - supported the resolution after language suggesting foreign spying could be a human rights violation was weakened.

Based on AP and Reuters reporting