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US House panel votes to end mass NSA surveillance

Published on May 8, 2014 6:03 AM
 
Journalists listen to a speech and question of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden at a media centre in Moscow. In a major congressional step towards curtailing widespread surveillance of millions of Americans, a House panel voted on Wednesday to end the dragnet collection of telephone metadata. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - In a major congressional step towards curtailing widespread surveillance of millions of Americans, a House panel voted on Wednesday to end the dragnet collection of telephone metadata.

The rare unanimous vote by the House Judiciary Committee provides strong bipartisan support for a measure that is backed by civil rights groups and could serve as a blueprint for a bill to be sent to President Barack Obama's desk that would ultimately halt the controversial intelligence policies.

The USA Freedom Act would forbid the National Security Agency's systematic scooping up of phone metadata - which includes numbers dialed, duration and times of calls, but not content.

It would require a secret surveillance court to issue an individual warrant, based on "reasonable articulable suspicion," for each request by intelligence agencies to scour the database, which should be done only in relation to an existing investigation.

 
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