Obama to ban spying on dozens of foreign leader allies

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:15am EST

WASHINGTON Jan 17 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama announced a ban on the U.S. government spying on dozens of foreign heads of state and government who count among Washington's close friends and allies, senior administration officials said on Friday.

The officials, speaking shortly before Obama unveiled his reforms of U.S. surveillance practices, also said communications providers would be allowed to share more information with the public about government requests for data.

Foreign leaders and U.S. citizens were outraged by revelations from former spy contractor Edward Snowden that showed Washington was listening to private phone calls of leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and collecting data from cell phone calls and emails of private citizens.

Among the list of reforms, Obama is calling on Congress to establish an outside panel of privacy advocates for the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court, the officials said. (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland)

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