NSA’s sweeping surveillance powers to be curbed as US Freedom Act passed

3 Jun 2015

Major powers of surveillance granted to the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US are to be curbed after the US senate voted in favour of the US Freedom Act, which will curtail its powers.

The bill has been signed into law by President Obama.

The practice of gathering US citizens’ data regardless of whether they are criminal suspects or not is to end.

The legislation comes almost 14 years after the September 11 attacks on the US and can be in many ways directly linked to the revelations by rogue NSA operative Edward Snowden, who is now living in exile in Russia.

Storage and collection of phone records will now shift from the NSA to the various telecoms companies, who can only reveal the data if they receive a special federal court petition.

The NSA hasn’t gone away, you know

However, this does not mean the NSA has gone away. In fact, the US government will be even more vigilant in terms of surveillance and the need to protect US assets in a time of hacking and veiled cyber warfare.

“After a needless delay and inexcusable lapse in important national security authorities, my administration will work expeditiously to ensure our national security professionals again have the full set of vital tools they need to continue protecting the country,” President Obama said.

“Just as important, enactment of this legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards and provide greater public confidence in these programmes.”

American eagle image via Shutterstock

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