Senators Introduce Bill to Limit NSA’s Spying Powers

Senators Introduce Bill to Limit NSA’s Spying Powers: A bipartisan coalition of senators introduced a new bill to limit the NSA’s powers to collect data on Americans on Wednesday. The bill is the most comprehensive legislative package unveiled to date and would ban the NSA from collecting Americans’ phone and email records.

The bill, called the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act (.PDF), combines various proposals into a single bill that would curtail the surveillance programs unveiled this summer by top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden and introduce new oversight mechanisms.

The bill has three main goals. The first is to overhaul the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by prohibiting the bulk collection of Americans’ phone metadata. It would also reform the law’s section 702, which constitutes the legal underpinning of the PRISM program, to limit its impact on Americans’ Internet communications.

The second purpose is to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secret court that authorizes NSA surveillance, introducing an independent “constitutional advocate” who would challenge government requests on privacy grounds and requiring the court to declassify some of its secret opinions.

Finally, the bill pushes for more transparency, seeking to allow tech companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft to disclose how many government surveillance requests they receive. The companies are currently prohibited to publish data on national security-related requests, such as those coming from the FISC, a ban that they are actively challenging.