Reuters on US Congress reversing post September 11 NSA surveillance programs, sending the USA Freedom Act to President Obama for signature:
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation reforming a government surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans’ telephone records, sending the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Reversing security policy in place since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the bill would end a system exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The spy agency collected and searched records of phone calls looking for terrorism leads but was not allowed to listen to their content.
Passage of the USA Freedom Act, the result of an alliance between Senate Democrats and some of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans, was 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.
Although not as expansive as needed to reverse most of the authorities given to the NSA to stop their privacy-invading internet surveillance on American citizens’ communications, the USA Freedom Act is a much needed piece of legislation. However, not all is peachy in Kansas; the NSA has multiple, overlapping authorities, allowing them to perform their invasive operations.
Just because this very specific authority has been revoked does not mean all NSA operations cease. Expect them to continue to listen in on communications using one of a number of other remaining authorities, such as Section 702 and EO 12333.