By Brian Fung
May 7 at 6:05 pm
A key House committee has approved a package of NSA reforms that would end the spy agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, nearly a year after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed the program’s existence.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 32-0 Wednesday to rein in the NSA with the USA FREEDOM Act, a measure that places new requirements on the government when it comes to gathering, targeting and searching telephone metadata for intelligence purposes.
In addition to prohibiting the NSA from engaging in what the bill’s sponsors have called “dragnet surveillance,” the bill would also require authorities to get permission from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on a case-by-case basis. It would establish a panel of privacy experts and other officials to serve as a public advocate at the court. And it would also give businesses more latitude to tell the public about requests it receives from the government for user data.
The bill represents “the best chance in a decade” to correct an imbalance between national security and privacy, said co-sponsor Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). It is the first surveillance reform bill to proceed to the House floor.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who helped write the bill and introduced a version of it in the Senate in October, vowed to bring up the measure there this summer.
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