US government agrees to cut funding for NSA ‘backdoor searches’

20 Jun 2014

US House of Representatives image via Wikimedia Commons

In the first major step towards pulling back some of the far-reaching scope of the US National Security Agency (NSA), the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favour of cutting funding for ‘backdoor searches’ on individuals.

Passing with 293 yeas and 123 nays, the amendment tagged on to the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act means the NSA will now not be able to access a person’s emails, browsing and chat history online without a prior warrant, something which until now it had been legally allowed to do at will.

According to Tech Crunch, Representatives Zoe Lefgren and Thomas Massie led the bill. They will now see the amendment passed before the Senate, where it will only receive official clearance once it has been passed by them.

US President Barack Obama had said last March he wanted to put through a bill which would limit the NSA’s far-reaching capabilities, particularly with regard to collecting data in bulk.

This amendment does not mean the NSA will not continue to have funding and access to reading material from foreign nations, something which became clear in yesterday’s leak by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed documents that showed the NSA was working with third-party countries, including Germany and Denmark, to give them access to their fibre-optic cables.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic