Both Parties Support Bill to Rein In Patriot Act

Legislation would end bulk data collection exposed by Edward Snowden
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2015 12:33 PM CDT
Both Parties Support Bill to Rein In Patriot Act
NSA leaker Edward Snowden appears on a live video feed broadcast from Moscow at an event sponsored by the ACLU Hawaii in Honolulu on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.   (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

The US government may consider Edward Snowden a traitor, but its lawmakers seem bent on reining in the surveillance abuses he exposed. Legislation that would end the bulk collection of data has the support of both parties in Congress, reports the New York Times. The House is poised to pass the USA Freedom Act, which overhauls the expiring Patriot Act, and a similar bill is expected to clear the Senate despite the objections of majority leader Mitch McConnell. Under the legislation, the NSA would no longer collect the bulk data, which would instead be kept by the phone companies. If the feds want access to it, they'd have to go through the Foreign Intelligence Service Act court, which would be advised by a newly created panel of experts on civil liberties.

"The bill ends bulk collection, it ends secret law," says House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, who introduced the original Patriot Act in 2001. "It increases the transparency of our intelligence community and it does all this without compromising national security." The Hill notes that while the measure has bipartisan support, it's opposed by defense hawks who think the surveillance is necessary as well as by civil libertarians who want the Patriot Act portions that are up for expiration to expire June 1 and not be replaced by anything. This year marks the first time since Snowden's revelations that the Patriot Act has come up for reauthorization, notes the Times. (More Edward Snowden stories.)

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