WASHINGTON - The US government is open to some changes to how it conducts its phone and Internet surveillance programs as long as they do not undermine the programs' effectiveness, US officials told a privacy oversight board on Monday.

How exactly the US phone and online data-gathering programs could strike such a balance - helping thwart terrorist plots while also protecting Americans' privacy - is under review by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Established at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission in 2004, the five-member board is an independent watchdog within the government's executive branch. It is studying US intelligence surveillance programs in light of recent disclosures that have raised concerns about lax privacy protections.

No timeline has been set for the board's work, but ultimately it will issue a report to President Barack Obama and Congress on the legal standards now used for online and phone spying by US intelligence agencies and what reforms may best ensure Americans' privacy is protected.

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