Congress passes USA Freedom Bill to limit NSA spying – but will it go far enough?

14 May 2015

The US House of Representatives last night passed the USA Freedom Bill overwhelmingly with 338 yes votes and 88 no votes to limit NSA spying.

The bill is due to be taken up by the US Senate within the next two weeks.

Despite the progress, digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has suggested the bill isn’t strong enough.

“EFF is neutral on the bill,” said Mark Jaycox of the EFF. “We believe the House missed an opportunity to strengthen the bill in light of the recent Second Circuit decision. We’re urging the Senate to take steps to strengthen the bill.”

Time for powerful surveillance reform

Ever since the Edward Snowden revelations about the lengths the NSA is going to in order to capture surveillance data – including allegations that it monitors the international traffic of online giants like Apple, Google and Facebook – there have been calls to limit the NSA’s activities and questions over whether mass surveillance is a practical way to defend against terrorism.

“2015 can and should be the year for powerful surveillance reform, and we’re urging the Senate to rise to this opportunity.

“However, even as the USA Freedom Act moves ahead, there are those within Congress who are seeking a rubber-stamp reauthorisation of Patriot Act spying authorities. They’re trying to extend the mass surveillance of millions of phone records of law-abiding citizens for another five years,” Jaycox warned.

US Congress image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years