On January 29, 2014, the National Security Agency (“NSA”) announced that Rebecca Richards has been appointed to serve as the NSA’s new Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer. Ms. Richards, who previously worked as the Senior Director for Privacy Compliance at the Department of Homeland Security, will advise the NSA Director on civil liberties and privacy issues and implement reforms in those areas.
Ms. Richards’ appointment follows the publication of a December 2013 report, Liberty and Security in a Changing World, that recommended “the creation of a privacy and civil liberties policy official located both in the National Security Staff and the Office of Management and Budget.” It also comes less than two weeks after President Obama delivered a major speech calling for reforms to government surveillance programs, including those conducted by the NSA.
In announcing the appointment, General Keith Alexander, the Director of the NSA, praised Ms. Richards’ privacy expertise. Director Alexander noted that “privacy and civil liberties considerations remain a vital driver for [the NSA’s] strategic decisions” and that having a Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer will help the agency “bring new perspectives to how [it] can best consider civil liberties and privacy” while protecting national security.