WASHINGTON Jan 15 AT&T Inc CEO Randall
Stephenson said on Wednesday he was anxious to hear details of
President Barack Obama's proposals to reform U.S. surveillance
programs, hoping for more clarity on the rules guiding the data
Obama is slated on Friday to unveil proposed reforms of
National Security Agency surveillance programs, potentially
including its once-secret program to collect metadata of
billions of domestic and foreign telephone calls, whose
existence was disclosed last year by former NSA contractor
A presidential review panel recommended that the
controversial bulk phone metadata collection program be reformed
by having telecommunications companies or private third parties,
rather than the NSA, record and store the data.
"At the end of the day, the data needs to be provided only
pursuant to court order or a subpoena or a warrant, so where the
data is housed probably isn't that important as long as the
rules are clarified and we know exactly what we're looking at,"
Stephenson told reporters on Wednesday.
"I'm anxious to see what the President brings to it on
Friday and I'd just like to see more clarity to it," he said,
speaking at a Christian Science Monitor event in Washington.
White House officials have said Obama was likely to announce
measures to curb or restrict spying on foreign leaders, upgrade
intelligence sharing with allies, and potentially allow privacy
advocates to appear routinely before the secretive Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Some of the potential changes face opposition of that court.
In meetings with legislators, Obama indicated he had no plan to
abandon telephone metadata collection - as bills introduced by
Senate and House Judiciary committee chairmen would do.
But it is unclear whether the President will propose changes
to the bulk phone metadata collection, as his review panel
Security officials have warned that storing data outside the
NSA could slow down intelligence operations in a crisis. They
have also demanded that NSA continue to have direct and instant
online access to telephone metadata even if responsibility for
storing it is turned over to phone companies or another private