The House passed legislation Thursday to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records, according to The Associated Press. The compromise measure (called “watered down” by Democrat Jan Schakowsky of Illinois) passed by a vote of 303 to 120, with nine members not voting.
Dropped from the bill was a requirement for an independent public advocate on the secret intelligence court that oversees the NSA, the article says.
The bill instructs phone companies to hold records for 18 months (already standard) and lets the NSA search them in terrorism investigations in response to a judicial order.
NSA officials were pleased with the bill, AP reports, because under the new arrangement, they will have access to many more mobile phone records than before. According to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the House Intelligence Committee chairman, “I believe this is a workable compromise that protects the core function of a counter terrorism program we know has saved lives around the world.”
Privacy and civil liberties activists, on the other hand, say the measure has been “gutted” to win agreement from lawmakers who support the NSA phone records program.
The measure now goes to the Senate.