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NSA-Limiting Bill To Get Markup This Week

The USA Freedom Act, a bill that would reform NSA data surveillance and collection—both phone and Internet communications—is being marked up May 7 in the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill (H.R. 3361) was sponsored by Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

The latest draft is in the form of a manager's amendment, which will be offered as a substitute at the markup—essentially replacing the old bill with a newer version.

That latest version is said to be a compromise between Judiciary chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), but that manager's amendment will likely change, too, between now and Wednesday, according a spokesperson for Sensenbrenner, as both sides continue to work on it.

The goal of the bill is, according to Sensenbrenner, is to "end bulk collection, reform the secret FISA Court, increase transparency and protect our constitutional right to privacy."

The White House has taken some steps to reign in NSA data collection, but not enough for critics, including a host of groups planning a day of activism June 5, the anniversary of the first story about NSA surveillance, based on info from leaker Edward Snowden.

One of the groups supporting that day of action, New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI), liked that there was bipartisan movement on the bill, but not some of the resulting changes.

“Although we’re still analyzing the details of this new version of the USA FREEDOM Act, especially the new authority for the collection of phone records that the President requested, we’re incredibly pleased to see the leaders of the Judiciary Committee crossing party lines to come together and move forward on a bill that’s clearly intended to prevent the bulk collection of records by the government—be they phone records, Internet records, or any other records,” said OTI policy director Kevin Bankston in a statement. But he added: "We’re dismayed to see that the strong transparency provisions in the original USA FREEDOM Act, which would have allowed Internet companies to engage in more reporting about the number and kind of government demands for information they receive and which were broadly supported by both industry and privacy advocates, have been removed."