Posted: 9:25 pm Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
By Jamie Dupree
With strong bipartisan support, the House on Wednesday okayed a plan that would end the controversial bulk collection of phone records by the National Security Agency, though the future of the measure was unclear in the face of strong opposition from some Republicans in the Senate.
The vote was 338-88 in favor.
“The American people have told Congress loud and clear that we need to rein in our nation’s surveillance programs,” said a joint statement from to Republicans and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.
“The bulk collection of records has not ceased and will not cease unless and until Congress acts to shut it down,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
“This should send a clear statement that the days of bulk data collection should come to an end,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT).
Backer circulated these bullet points on what the plan would do:
+ Prohibits bulk collection of ALL records under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, the FISA pen register authority, and national security letter statutes.
+ The bulk collection prohibition is strengthened by prohibiting large-scale, indiscriminate collection, such as all records from an entire state, city, or zip code.
+ Allows challenges of national security letter gag orders
+ The bill creates a panel of amicus curie at the FISA court to provide guidance on matters of privacy and civil liberties, communications technology, and other technical or legal matters.
+ All significant constructions or interpretations of law by the FISA court must be made public. These include all significant interpretations of the definition of “specific selection term,” the concept at the heart of the ban on bulk collection.
+ Tech companies will have a range of options for describing how they respond to national security orders, all consistent with national security needs.
The plan still needs approval in the Senate, but a number of leading Republicans there aren’t sold on the House-passed plan.
Action is needed by the end of the month, which is the deadline for action on a series of expiring provisions under the Patriot Act.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.