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House intel panel advances NSA spying bill despite privacy objections

House intel panel advances NSA spying bill despite privacy objections
From Reuters - December 1, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House panel on Friday approved legislation that would renew the National Security Agencys warrantless internet surveillance program, despite objections from the technology sector and civil liberties groups over inadequate privacy protection.

The House Intelligence Committee passed 13-8 the measure to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for a further four years until 2021. The act is due to expire on Dec. 31 in the absence of congressional action.

The bills passage signaled that Congress remained far from consensus on how to renew Section 702, as several rival bills with various new privacy provisions circulated in the House and Senate, with no clear path forward for any measure.

Intelligence agencies say Section 702 is vital to national security and protecting American allies, and the Trump administration wants minimal changes to it.

But privacy advocates criticized the intelligence panels bill for not requiring a warrant to access collected data belonging to Americans.

Reform Government Surveillance, a group representing major tech companies including Facebook, Alphabets Google and Apple that presses governments around the world to bolster digital privacy protections, issued a lengthy statement Thursday denouncing the measure, which it said may expand government surveillance.

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