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Bill to Rein in NSA Surveillance Efforts Fails in US Senate

  • VOA News

A bill that would have ended the U.S. government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records was defeated in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 58-42 to move the bill to a formal debate, falling two votes short of the 60 required. The bill, dubbed the U.S.A. Freedom Act, would have required the National Security Agency to obtain a court order to retrieve data, and then only about a specific person. The Republican-held House of Representatives had previously passed its own version of the bill.

The legislation was crafted after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the bulk collection program in 2013. Although the agency did not collect the contents of the phone conversations, the revelations still triggered a backlash among civil liberties activists who said the program violated Americans' privacy.

The bill was supported by the Obama administration and technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple. But Senate Republicans said the legislation would undermine the government's ability to combat terrorism.

There is little chance the bill will come up for another vote before January, when Republicans take control of the Senate.

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