Eavesdropping

By Christi Parsons
June 7, 2013, 10:07 a.m.

SAN JOSE — President Obama said Friday that the government is not listening to the phone calls and reading the emails of Americans, but warned that the country “can’t have 100% security” and still have “100% privacy.”

“Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said. Investigators “are not looking at people’s names and they’re not looking at content,” he said, but rather examining call logs to “identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism.”

As for examining emails and other Internet communications, he said, “this does not apply to U.S. citizens, and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”

While people can “complain about Big Brother” in the abstract, “when you actually look at the details,” the government’s programs to collect information come with strict limits, he said.

Obama made his remarks to reporters in San Jose, where he was attending a Democratic fundraising event before his meetings this weekend with the president of China.

Obama’s director of national intelligence confirmed Thursday evening that the government has a program that allows it to tap into the central servers of leading Internet companies to search for data potentially linked to terrorism, espionage or nuclear proliferation.

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