Govt. Surveillance May Spur Congress

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Lawmakers from both parties in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are becoming increasingly concerned about the scope of domestic surveillance activities by the National Security Agency and other government entities.

The result may be debate and action on legislation in Washington, perhaps as early as this week.

According to the McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau, the House could soon debate a provision by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., to be added to a defense spending bill, which would terminate the NSA's mass collection of Americans' telephone records.

Meanwhile, The Hill reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is sponsoring a measure that would mandate the disclosure of the nature and volume of data that tech companies have been asked to turn over by the federal government.

Members of Congress from both parties have been reluctant to compromise such programs because of the potential of harming national security and hindering the prevention of terrorism on U.S. soil.

But revelations of the scope of government data collection of information and communications of U.S. citizens is prompting both concern and potential action.

Last Friday, National Intelligence Director James Clapper admitted that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) has reauthorized the government's collection of online data.

That gave new impetus to a bill sponsored by Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, to have the court's judges nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

One member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said, "I think as more and more people come to understand the breadth of the authorizations that the NSA and other intelligence agencies have, they start to get a little worried about the encroachment on their privacy, and that's absolutely fair."

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