House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) speaks at a news conference - REUTERS
WASHINGTON – 9 November 2017: A U.S. House panel on Wednesday passed legislation seeking to overhaul some aspects of the National Security Agency's warrantless internet surveillance program, overcoming criticism from civil liberties advocates that it did not include enough safeguards to protect Americans' privacy.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 27-8 to approve the bill, which would partially restrict the U.S. government's ability to review American data collected under the foreign intelligence program by requiring a warrant in some cases.
Lawmakers in both parties were sharply divided over whether the compromise proposal to amend what is known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would enshrine sufficient privacy protections or possibly grant broader legal protections for the NSA's surveillance regime.
"The ultimate goal here is to reauthorize a very important program with meaningful and responsible reforms," Republican Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the committee, said. "If we do not protect this careful compromise, all sides of this debate risk losing."
Passage of the House bill sets up a potential collision with two separate pieces of legislation advancing in the U.S. Senate, one favored by privacy advocates and one considered more acceptable to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Congress must renew Section 702 in some form before Dec. 31 or the program will expire.