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Obama Defends Phone, Internet Surveillance Programs

U.S. President Barack Obama has defended his country's surveillance of phone records.
U.S. President Obama has defended secret surveillance into U.S. phone records and foreigners' Internet use, arguing that the programs' value in "prevent[ing] terrorist attacks" is worth the "modest encroachments on privacy."

It was revealed June 5 that Washington has been secretly collecting telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order.

Civil liberty groups have cried foul. Another secret program revealed on June 6 tracks the Internet use of foreign nationals outside the U.S. who use U.S.-based Internet providers.

On the phone surveillance program, Obama said, "Nobody is listening to your telephone calls."

He said officials instead look at phone numbers and durations.

In one of the first international reactions, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the bloc is "concerned about the possible consequences for EU citizens' privacy."

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP