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Rights groups criticize Obama’s spying reforms

346274_ObamaPrivacy rights advocates and tech firms have strongly criticized US President Barack Obama’s proposed reforms to Washington’s spying activities.

Critics have dismissed Obama’s proposed overhaul, saying the proposals would have little effect and would only preserve the status quo.

On Friday, Obama delivered a much-anticipated speech at the Department of Justice, introducing some changes to US intelligence-gathering practices. However, privacy rights advocates say his proposed reforms are just half-measures that would leave the spying programs virtually untouched.

“The big picture takeaway from today’s speech is that the right to privacy remains under grave threat both here at home and around the world,” said Amnesty International Executive Director Steven Hawkins in a statement on Friday.

Human Rights Watch also said Obama’s proposed reforms “fell short on core human rights concerns.”

In an interview with CNN, Julian Assange, founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, described Obama’s speech as “embarrassing,” saying he spoke for 45 minutes and said “almost nothing.”

Tech firms were also quick to criticize Obama’s proposals, saying such proposed reforms are insufficient.

“Overall, the strategy seems to be to leave current intelligence processes largely intact and improve oversight to a degree,” Alex Fowler and Chris Riley, top executives at Mozilla, wrote in a statement.

“Without a meaningful change of course, the Internet will continue on its path toward a world of balkanization and distrust, a grave departure from its origins of openness and opportunity,” they added.

Former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, whose leaks brought to light the scope and scale of US spying activities across the globe, has already said that his “mission’s already accomplished” because he “wanted to give the society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

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