(Source: Mashable)
Both Republican and Democratic senators hope to end bulk collection of American communications

U.S. senators are looking to terminate the National Security Agency's (NSA) bulk collection of communications between Americans through new surveillance reforms.

U.S. senators have introduced legislation this week to keep a tighter rein on the NSA's behavior, such as the use of surveillance programs to collect Americans' communications in bulk. The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding a public hearing today, where the panel will discuss these surveillance reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

One of the measures is authored by Democrats Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal, and Republican Rand Paul. It seeks to stop the bulk collection of American communications; develop a "constitutional advocate" to represent the public in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court; allow Americans affected by the surveillance programs to file lawsuits for damages in U.S. courts, and let companies disclose more information about cooperation with government surveillance.

“Recent revelations about NSA overreach show the need for strong and effective oversight of government surveillance – oversight by a Constitutional Advocate to fight for Americans’ civil liberties before the FISA Courts,” said Blumenthal. “This reform, as well as the others in this legislative package, will ensure that the NSA and the FISA Courts respect constitutional rights. We can protect both national security and constitutional liberties by making sure the Courts hear both sides, as they do in every other judicial proceeding.” 

The NSA was busted for its questionable eavesdropping methods via surveillance programs earlier this year when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed them to the public. Some of the methods included collecting data from phones and email in bulk, then sifting through the information after collection in an effort to find foreign communications or hints of terrorist activity. But the public feared for their privacy after such revelations.

Last month, reports said that the NSA admitted to touching 1.6 percent of total globe Web traffic. Its technique was to filter data after harvesting it, which led to over-collection on a major scale. 

Days later, an internal audit showed that the NSA broke the law nearly 3,000 times from 2011 to 2012. More specifically, the May 2012 audit revealed that the NSA had abused its power to either accidentally or intentionally spy on Americans and green card holders 2,997 times in that time period. 

More recent reports show that the NSA bypasses several types of Internet encryption, and even used back-door access to tech giants like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Microsoft for three years to gain the information it wanted. Furthermore, Snowden said that the NSA spends about $250 million USD to diminish international encryption standards (as well as products) so that it can decode what it wants.

To further prove the government's intense bullying for secret data, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said she feared being prosecuted for treason had she not complied with government requests at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco earlier this month.

Sources:, Reuters

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