The House of Representatives on Thursday approved an effort to rein in government surveillance by passing an amendment that attempts to block so-called “backdoor” searches by the NSA.
The late night vote on the amendment, whose main sponsor was Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), passed 293-123 with overwhelming bipartisan support and little debate.
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Massie and amendment co-sponsors Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) called their proposal “a sure step toward shutting the back door on mass surveillance,” and stated that it would “reinstate an important provision that was stripped from the original USA FREEDOM Act to further protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Congress has an ongoing obligation to conduct oversight of the intelligence community and its surveillance authorities.”
Specifically, the amendment to the 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act would “prohibit use of funds by an officer or employee of the United States to query a collection of foreign intelligence information acquired under FISA using a United States person identifier except in specified instances.”
In other words, as a group of privacy advocates and tech companies wrote in a letter (pdf) to House members,
The amendment would block the Defense Appropriations Bill from funding the NSA to conduct this kind of backdoor search.
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