Now, keep in mind that as a senator, I expressed a healthy skepticism about these programs. And as president, I've taken steps to make sure that they have strong oversight by all three branches of government and clear safeguards to prevent abuse and protect the rights of the American people. But given the history of abuse by governments, it's right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives.
I'm also mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends upon the example of American democracy and American openness, because what makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation; it's the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.
In other words, it's not enough for me, as president, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well. And that's why over the last few weeks I've consulted members of Congress, who come at this issue from many different perspectives. I've asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to review where our counterterrorism efforts and our values come into tension. And I directed my national security team to be more transparent and to pursue reforms of our laws and practices. And so today I'd like to discuss four specific steps, not all- inclusive, but some specific steps that we're going to be taking very shortly to move the debate forward.
First, I will work with Congress to pursue appropriate reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the program that collects telephone records. As I've said, this program is an important tool in our effort to disrupt terrorist plots, and it does not allow the government to listen to any phone calls without a warrant. But given the scale of this program, I understand the concerns of those who would worry that it could be subject to abuse.
So after having a dialogue with members of Congress and civil libertarians, I believe that there are steps we can take to give the American people additional confidence that there are additional safeguards against abuse. For instance, we can take steps to put in place greater oversight, greater transparency and constraints on the use of this authority.