Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Obama-backed surveillance reform bill introduced in US Senate

Patrick Leahy’s popular bill contains stricter privacy measures than the USA Freedom Act, which the House passed in May

Spencer Ackerman in New York
theguardian.com, Tuesday 29 July 2014 14.52 EDT

A surveillance reform bill backed by the Obama administration was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, raising the possibility that Congress could this year take the National Security Agency out of the business of collecting and storing all US phone data.

Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, the bill is a counterpart to the USA Freedom Act, which the House of Representatives passed in May, but contains some stricter privacy measures and broader transparency requirements – the absence of which caused civil libertarians, privacy groups and technology firms to abandon their support for the House version. Many of them are backing Leahy’s bill.

The question underlying the legislation is “whether we are in control of our own government or the other way around,” Leahy, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said on the Senate floor.

Warning that the legislative calendar will make passing reform this year difficult, Leahy said he wants to take the bill directly to the Senate floor. His 13 co-sponsors include Republicans Ted Cruz, Dean Heller and Mike Lee, who on the floor said the “broad-based bipartisan” bill “is absolutely necessary.”

(More here.)

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