As predicted yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill to renew the National Security Agency’s warrantless Internet surveillance program, overcoming objections from privacy advocates. The NSA is now free to electronically spy on Americans in almost any way the agency wishes. Actually, the agency apparently has been doing this for years. The only difference is that such spying will now be legal if the Senate also passes the bill and if Trump signs it.
The legislation passed 256-164 and split party lines. Senior Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives had urged cancellation of the vote after Trump appeared to cast doubt on the merits of the program, but Republicans forged ahead. Trump initially wrote on Twitter that the surveillance program, first created in secret after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and later legally authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), had been used against him but later said it was needed.
Thursday’s vote was a major blow to privacy and civil liberties advocates, who just two years ago celebrated passage of a law effectively ending the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone call records, another top-secret program exposed by Snowden.
Details may be found in an article by Dustin Volz in the Reuters news agency at: http://reut.rs/2mk0hPx.