Now that the report has been issued, Beckerman said, the administration should "turn its attention to the most pressing privacy priorities facing American consumers" — to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and to "reform the government's surveillance laws and practices."
Other companies, including Mozilla, the maker of a popular web browser, also urged the government to focus on surveillance issues, reflecting Silicon Valley's concern that the biggest threat they face today is the suspicion around the world that the N.S.A. has built "back doors" into American products.
Google has said it will work to build encryption systems that can defeat N.S.A. spying, and several companies have revised their policies in recent months to say they will warn customers, whenever they legally can, if the government tries to subpoena data stored in their emails, in the cloud or in social media accounts. The notification would not apply in cases where a search was authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which prohibits warning targets of such searches, but the firms are clearly trying to deter the government from regularly mining their data.
In one area, the report appears to side, at least in part, with critics of the N.S.A. who argued with the intelligence agency's contention that it is far less intrusive to collect "metadata" about a phone call or email than to collect its content.
The former director of the N.S.A., Gen. Keith B. Alexander, often noted that because the agency maintained a database only of the phone numbers that Americans called and the durations of the calls, it was not violating their privacy. But the report notes that there is a "profound question" about whether that kind of metadata "should be accorded stronger privacy protections than they are currently" because they can be revealing of a person's movements and habits. "This review recommends that the government should broaden" the examination of how intelligence agencies use such data and consider whether the test should be "how much it reveals about individuals."
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Podesta, in briefing reporters on Thursday, also singled out the shortcomings of the "Terms of Service" that consumers click on, almost always without reading them, when they sign up for free email accounts or download apps for their smartphones. He asked whether that process "still allows us to control and protect our privacy as the data is used and reused."
That is bound to prove contentious in the information industry, where the clicking on the terms of service is viewed as a license to use the data for a variety of highly profitable purposes.
The report also recommends extending Americans' privacy rights to foreigners, on the theory that there are no boundaries when it comes to the data collected online. President Obama declared in January that the government would do the same in the treatment of data it collects through the National Security Agency and other sources.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that the report identified the key issues and that its policy recommendations addressed privacy groups' major concerns. "The implementation of those proposals," Rotenberg said, "is the big challenge now, what happens next."