After a week of fierce debate, the Senate passed landmark legislation Tuesday, signaling the end of an era of widespread domestic surveillance that began in the fearful weeks after 9/11.
The USA Freedom Bill, if fully and correctly implemented, will end the NSA’s indiscriminate collection of bulk telephone data — an extremely controversial surveillance program that was brought widely to light by Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013.
The House of Representatives has already passed the measure, which AFP reports will also reauthorize key national security programs that had been allowed to lapse earlier this week. The bill will now go to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.
“This is the first time since 9/11 that Congress has agreed to roll back the extraordinary authorities that were enacted in the wake of the attacks,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) called the bill’s passage “the most significant victory for Americans’ privacy rights in more than a decade, and stands as a true endorsement of the principle that Americans do not need to sacrifice their liberty to have security.”
Photo: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) answers questions with Sen. John Cornyn at the U.S. Capitol, June 2, 2015 in Washington, DC.