By Jorge Campos |Staff Writer|
The House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act to end the National Security Agency’s (NSA) cellular spying program.
The American spying program automatically collects and records people’s phone information and was ruled illegal on Thursday, May 7.
Congress will now have to immediately decide whether or not to end or replace the controversial anti-terrorist surveillance system, according to The Telegraph.
The bill passed with a vote of 388-88, putting an end to the government’s collection of phone records, according to wired.com.
However, the USA Freedom Act, which will stop the NSA from acquiring access to this information, is not in the clear yet. The bill must go to the U.S. Senate for a vote to be approved.
In June 2013, Edward Snowden, former government security contractor, exposed the agency’s collection of the “bulk telephony metadata.” Metadata includes the existence and duration of calls made but do not have access to the content of the conversations, according to reuters.com.
The bill calls for the records to be retained by telecoms and forces the NSA to acquire court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to gain access to them.
It also requires the agency to use specific search terms to narrow its access to only relevant records.
The White House supports the reforms, saying the bill protects privacy while preserving essential national security authorities, according to The Telegraph.
Supporters of the USA Freedom Act in the Senate are now under pressure to pass it by May 22, when Section 215 of the Patriot Act expires, according to wired.com.
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