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President Barack Obama proposed long-awaited overhauls to government surveillance practices on Friday, headlined by reforms in the way the government collects and accesses so-called “meta-data.”

"America’s capabilities are unique,” Obama said in the highly-anticipated speech at the Department of Justice. “That places a special obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do."

Obama ordered changes to intelligence-gathering practices so that the government would no longer store broad collections of information on phone and electronic communications. Instead, the president is advocating those records be stored by a third party, although he was not specific about exactly how that would work. If adopted, the proposals represent a step back from the government’s claims to wide latitude in the manner in which it maintains national security.

The United States will also have to seek judicial approval going forward before accessing such information. And Congress, as well as the president’s Justice Department will play key roles in determining whether any of the president’s proposals are enacted.