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HRW: Obama's NSA reforms not enough

Human Rights Watch says there is no proof that the gathering of information has made a difference.

Human Rights Watch says there is no proof that the gathering of information has made a difference. Picture: AFP.

BERLIN - US President Barack Obama has not gone far enough in reforming the monitoring activities of the National Security Agency (NSA) and is continuing to violate the privacy rights of individuals, the head of Human Rights Watch told Reuters.

On Friday, Obama banned eavesdropping on the leaders of allies and began reining in the vast collection of US citizens' phone data as he sought to reassure Americans and foreigners the United States would take into account privacy concerns highlighted by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations.

"All Obama has offered us is some vague assurance that people's communications will be listened to only if there is a national security interest at stake, which is a pretty fuzzy broad standard," Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an interview in Berlin.

"In none of this has there been a recognition that non-Americans outside the United States have a right to the privacy of their communications, ... metadata and that everybody has a right not to have their electronic communications scooped up into a government computer," he added.

Roth said there was no proof that gathering communications en masse had made a difference to security.

In its annual global report, HRW said there was a risk that governments would respond to the US.