The US House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Defence Appropriations bill designed to cut funding for NSA backdoors. The amendment passed overwhelmingly with strong bipartisan support: 293 ayes, 123 nays and 1 present.
Currently, the NSA collects emails, browsing and chat history under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, and searches this information without a warrant for the communications of Americans — a practice known as "backdoor searches". The amendment would block the NSA from using any of its funding from this Defense Appropriations Bill to conduct such warrantless searches. In addition, the amendment would prohibit the NSA from using its budget to mandate or request that private companies and organisations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web.
Mark Rumold, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stated:
Tonight, the House of Representatives took an important first step in reining in the NSA. The House voted overwhelmingly to cut funding for two of the NSA's invasive surveillance practices: the warrantless searching of Americans' international communications, and the practice of requiring companies to install vulnerabilities in communications products or services. We applaud the House for taking this important first step, and we look forward to other elected officials standing up for our right to privacy.
Digital rights organisations, including EFF, strongly supported the amendment. We and other organisations — including Free Press, Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Taskforce.is — helped to organise a grassroots campaign to promote the amendment. The day before the vote, we urged friends and members to call their members of Congress through the websiteShuttheBackDoor.net. Thousands responded to the call to action. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who spoke out on this issue. This is a great day in the fight to rein in NSA surveillance abuses, and we hope Congress will work to ensure this amendment is in the final version of the appropriations bill that is enacted.
This article first appeared on Electronic Frontier Foundation and is republished here under Creative Commons licence.