NSA reform falters as House passes gutted USA Freedom Act
The House passed legislation Thursday—ironically called the USA Freedom Act—that continues to allow the National Security Agency the ability to sift through the phone metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States.
The so-called “reform” measure comes a year after the Guardian revealed the snooping program with documents supplied by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Civil rights advocates withdrew their support for the package, H.R.3361, after the Obama administration pressured the Republican leadership to water it down.
“The ban on bulk collection was deliberately watered down to be ambiguous and exploitable,” said Harley Geiger, an attorney with the Center for Democracy & Technology. “We withdrew support for USA Freedom when the bill morphed into a codification of large-scale, untargeted collection of data about Americans with no connection to a crime or terrorism.”
The White House doesn’t see it that way. “The bill ensures our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the Nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected when these authorities are employed,” the White House said.