The national debate over U.S. government surveillance, in a sharp and unexpected shift, seems to be turning in favour of reining in the National Security Agency’s expansive spying powers at home and abroad.

In the span of just a few days, a federal judge has ruled that the NSA’s telephone records were unconstitutional, a presidential advisory panel recommended sweeping changes to the agency, and pressure is rising on President Barack Obama to scale back the controversial programmes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said surveillance efforts are necessary to fight terrorism and “not a cause for repentance,” but they should be limited by clear rules.

Even the President’s argument that the data collection is to needed to protect the U.S. from attacks has been undermined by the Federal Judge Richard Leon, who said there is little evidence that the collection, even if constitutional, prevented attacks. An intelligence advisory panel with access to classified information came to the same conclusion in its 300-page report.

However, Mr. Obama, albeit facing much public criticism, is in no way obligated to make any substantial changes.

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