House Votes To Renew Surveillance Law, Rejecting New Privacy Limits
Charlie Savage, Eileen Sullivan and Nicholas Fandos, New York Times
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to extend the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program for six years with minimal changes, rejecting a yearslong effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to impose significant new privacy limits when it sweeps up Americans’ emails and other personal communications.
The vote, 256 to 164, centered on an expiring law that permits the government, without a warrant, to collect communications of foreigners abroad from United States firms like Google and AT&T — even when those targets are talking to Americans. Congress had enacted the law in 2008 to legalize a form of a once-secret warrantless surveillance program created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The legislation approved on Thursday still has to go through the Senate. But fewer lawmakers there appear to favor major changes to spying laws, so the House vote is likely the effective end of a debate over 21st-century surveillance technology and privacy rights that broke out in 2013 following the leaks by the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden.
Congress did, in 2015, vote to end and replace another program that Mr. Snowden exposed, under which the N.S.A. had been secretly collecting logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls in bulk. But reform-minded lawmakers who hoped to add significant new privacy constraints to the warrantless surveillance program fell short on Thursday.
[Subscription may be required.]