House Votes To Limit Spying On Americans, Ban NSA "Backdoor" Access

In a surprise move Thursday night, the House voted to limit spying on U.S. citizens and prohibit requiring “backdoor” access for products and services.

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. AP

A year after Edward Snowden’s massive document leak, the House voted 293 to 123 in favor of an amendment to a $570 billion defense spending bill that would place new limits on government spying on Americans. The bill will head next to the Senate for consideration.

The amendment would cut off funding for the warrantless collection of online personal information, such as emails and browsing history. It also prohibits requiring “backdoor” access for the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency into web services and tech products.

The Republican-led House joined forces with Democrats for bipartisan support on the measure that they said had been removed from an earlier bill on bulk collection. Objections were considered from committee leaders.

Radomes of the former monitoring base of NSA in Bad Aibling, Germany. CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP / Getty Images

After the vote, Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, Democrat Zoe Lofgren, and Republican Thomas Massie, who sponsored the measure, released a statement that said it “will reinstate an important provision that was stripped” from Americans:

“There’s no question Americans have become increasingly alarmed with the breadth of unwarranted government surveillance programs used to store and search their private data. By adopting this amendment, Congress can take a sure step toward shutting the back door on mass surveillance. This amendment will reinstate an important provision that was stripped from the original USA FREEDOM Act to further protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens. Congress has an ongoing obligation to conduct oversight of the intelligence community and its surveillance authorities.”

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