House Judiciary Committee passes measure to curb Widespread Government Surveillance
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday brought into picture a measure to improve the controversial USA Patriot Act to curb widespread government surveillance. Bipartisan reform is taking shape on Capitol Hill nearly two years after documents on a massive government surveillance program were released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Strong support for the bill was seen in committee, where it passed with a 25-to-2 vote. The bill seems to get the clearance in the House without any obstacle. “The bill ends bulk collection. It increases the transparency of our intelligence community and it does all this without compromising national security”, said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) of Wisconsin, a coauthor of the bill and the original author of the Patriot Act.
The approval of the bill will mean prohibition of the bulk collection of metadata, including a program tracking all Americans' phone records. Instead, the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will be required by intelligence agencies for accessing data stored by phone companies.
The bill will also make it mandatory to create a panel of experts to advise the court on civil liberties and technology issues.
Diverse groups such as human rights advocates and lawmakers concerned with transparency issues have provided huge support for the USA Freedom Act. It has also made it possible to reunite some unlikely political bedfellows, such as House Speaker John Boehner, the White House, and supporters of the tea party movement.
The nonprofit Human Rights Watch announced Thursday that the approval of the USA Freedom Act should immediately come from the United States Congress to prohibit bulk data collection and overhaul transparency and oversight of surveillance.
However, some civil liberties advocates say that there are insufficient provisions in the legislation.
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