Washington — The House of Representatives has passed the USA Freedom Act (H.R. 2048) by an emphatic 338-88 vote. The Act would limit the government’s surveillance abilities by eliminating bulk metadata collection across a range of authorities and institute improved transparency and oversight mechanisms for other surveillance practices. The Senate is expected to take up the measure soon.
The House vote comes days after the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and other electronic records was illegal under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. That provision, which the NSA has relied on for the legal justification for some of its bulk collection programs, expires at the end of the month.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has frequently testified in favor of limiting government overreach on surveillance. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“This legislation takes several steps in the right direction to end mass surveillance. While the bill does not completely reform all the NSA’s mass surveillance authorities, it does significantly narrow the ability of the NSA to collect call records and offers greater oversight and transparency in the government’s electronic surveillance activities.
“The reforms present in the USA FREEDOM Act are crucial for citizens in a free society, and we thank those who have been advocates of reform, along with the bill’s sponsors, Representatives Sensenbrenner, Goodlatte, Conyers, and Nadler. We now urge the Senate to swiftly take up and pass the USA FREEDOM Act.”