Nearly two years after the US government’s collection of telephone calls became public following the Edward Snowden leaks, the US House of Representatives has passed, by a vote of 338-88, the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would end the government’s phone surveillance database. The data will still be available for government searches, but it will lie with the individual phone companies.
The bill was opposed by 47 Republicans and 41 Democrats, most of whom said the proposal didn’t go far enough to protect civil liberties. A roll call of votes on the bill is available here.
Policymakers on all sides of the surveillance debate were under pressure to make some kind of move, with relevant portions of the Patriot Act set to expire at the end of this month. The USA Freedom Act ends the bulk phone database but doesn’t include many other wished-for reforms, such as a privacy advocate at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which was in an earlier version of the bill. It also doesn’t include “minimization” procedures meant to make sure the government purges information about people not related to its investigations.