In what’s being billed as a momentum boost for anti-surveillance advocates, the US House of Representative on Thursday approved an amendment that significantly reigns in warrantless searches on Americans’ communication records.
By a vote of 293 to 123, a bipartisan coalition in the House voted to ban the National Security Agency from conducting “backdoor searches” on United States citizens, a process that allowed the intelligence community to collect data on Americans without a warrant as long as the official target was a foreigner. The program was first revealed by the Guardian, through documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The NSA has argued that when a US citizen engages in communication with a foreigner it has targeted for surveillance, the spy agency can legitimately store the data – email, phone, and text conversations – in a database and search through it at any time for information on US citizens. The House vote comes amid rising concerns over the potential for the NSA to continue expanding its collection of data on Americans.