Patriot Act bill to cut back NSA snooping clears first hurdle

Patriot Act Reforms Could Cut Back NSA Snooping
Patriot Act Reforms Could Cut Back NSA Snooping

A House committee took a key step Thursday toward rolling back the National Security Agency's controversial collection of American phone records.

The House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill known as the USA Freedom Act that will end NSA's collection of domestic calling records that whistleblower Edward Snowden made public before fleeing the United States.

This bipartisan House bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, would prohibit the bulk collection of phone records under Section 215.

Instead, intelligence agencies could only access the data if the secret FISA court signs off on it.

Many privacy advocates say the bill doesn't go far enough, because it doesn't address the section of the Patriot Act that the government uses to authorize PRISM, a program that allows the NSA to access private online user-data from major U.S. internet companies.

Despite complaints from civil liberties advocates, the bill does have the backing of both a bipartisan majority in the House, Speaker John Boehner and the White House.

The legislation's future in the Senate is in question however, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is sponsoring legislation that would fully reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act until 2020.