2014-05-09 02:30:18

NSA reform advances in US House of Representatives

The lower house of the US Congress has moved one step closer to passing legislation that would overhaul a key NSA surveillance program. The bill would end the bulk collection of American telephone call records.

The House of Representatives intelligence committee gave the green light on Thursday to the USA Freedom Act, moving the legislation one step closer to a final vote.

Two House committees have now approved the bill. On Wednesday, the judiciary committee had also waved the legislation through in a unanimous vote.

The USA Freedom Act would end the bulk collection of US citizens and legal residents' telephone metadata by the National Security Agency (NSA). Instead, the telephone companies would retain their subscribers' information.

The government would have to acquire a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) in order to obtain a US person's call records from their telephone company. In the past, the court has been criticized by privacy advocates for meeting in secret and almost always approving the government's requests.

Last summer, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs to The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers. The USA Freedom Act is the first attempt by Congress to reign in NSA surveillance in the wake of the leaks.

If the legislation passes in the House, it will still have to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by US President Barack Obama.

(agencies, imedia)

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