Edward Snowden speaks via video conference during a panel discussion on internet privacy with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, March 10, 2014.
March 25, 2014 7:11 PM EDT

Edward Snowden said Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s proposed reforms to National Security Agency surveillance programs are a “turning point” for the country, but he added the proposal does not go far enough to protect Americans’ privacy.

“[The plan] marks the beginning of a new effort to reclaim our rights from the NSA and restore the public’s seat at the table of government,” said Snowden in a statement transmitted by the ACLU. “President Obama has now confirmed that these mass surveillance programs, kept secret from the public and defended out of reflex rather than reason, are in fact unnecessary and should be ended.”

The White House’s reform package would end the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata from telecommunications companies, instead requiring phone companies to keep metadata records themselves. Intelligence agencies would then have to get court approval to access specific records.

Obama earlier on Tuesday urged Congress to pass the reform quickly.

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