President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed legislation that reforms a contentious government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans’ telephone records after the bill was passed by Congress, Reuters reports.
The measure, passed earlier in the day by Congress, ends a phone data collection system exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that was put into place shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Over the years, the spy agency has collected and searched records of phone calls looking for terrorism leads, but was not allowed to listen to their content, the report says.
The president sent out a tweet after the Senate voted 67-32 on Tuesday to give final congressional approval to the bill, which was the result of an alliance between Senate Democrats and some of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans, Reuters writes.
Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I’ll sign it as soon as I get it.
— President Obama (@POTUS) June 2, 2015
Indeed, passage of the U.S.A. Freedom Act represented a victory for Obama, a Democrat, and a setback for Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The new law would require companies such as Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, to collect and store telephone records the same way that they do now for billing purposes.
But instead of routinely feeding U.S. intelligence agencies such data, the companies would be required to turn it over only in response to a government request approved by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court….
After Republican Senator Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate, blocked McConnell’s efforts to keep them going temporarily, the Senate missed a deadline to extend legal authorities for certain data collection by the NSA and the FBI.
While the American Civil Liberties Union called the Freedom Act a milestone, it stopped short of offering total praise, saying the reforms do not go far enough. “The passage of the bill is an indication that comprehensive reform is possible, but it is not comprehensive reform in itself,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.
SOURCE: Reuters | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN