A proposed law intended to stop the National Security Agency (NSA) from spying on the American public has died on the Senate floor. The bill failed after a procedural vote on Tuesday. Opponents to the legislation successfully argued that the bill would assist enemies of America -- including the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The bill, which was being referred to as the USA Freedom Act, received bipartisan support from a number of politicians who wanted to preserve the privacy rights of Americans. However, it did not receive the 60 votes it required to move through the Senate. Instead, it received 42 votes in favor and 58 opposed.
Outspoken Senator Said Bill Would Help America's Enemies
One outspoken senator made several statements in opposition to the legislation. He said that firm determination and smart policies will be required if the United States wants to successfully degrade and destroy ISIS. In reference to the privacy protection measures, he said that lawmakers should not be doing anything that could potentially make the battle against ISIS more difficult.
The privacy protection legislation was largely in response to information released by ex-NSA worker Edward Snowden last year, which showed that United States intelligence organizations were spying on and collecting vast amounts of data from telephone calls made by millions of American citizens. Intelligence organizations were collecting this data without securing any kind of search warrant.
If passed, the USA Freedom Act would have made it necessary for the NSA to request communication records on specific people, on an individual basis, when investigating potential cases of terrorism. As it stands, the NSA has had carte blanche access to all records indiscriminately. A similar -- though less strict -- version of the measure was passed by the House of Representatives in early 2014. That legislation was supported by the White House, who said that it did not benefit America's enemies.
Telecom Companies Unite Against Government Spying
Proponents of the USA Freedom Act included a group of telecommunications companies made up of: Facebook, AOL, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Yahoo. This group sent a letter asking Senate lawmakers to pass the legislation because of the way U.S. spying policies were negatively affecting their business and reputations -- especially with overseas customers.
What do you think about all this? Are American citizens' civil rights to privacy being violated by government spying practices? Do we need stiffer legislation to protect our privacy? Is the NSA's policy of gathering and storing data on American citizens a good thing or a bad thing for our future?
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