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House of Representatives passes USA Freedom Act

On 13 May, the US House of Representatives passed the latest version of the USA Freedom Act – the most prominent piece of legislation to have been introduced in the US in the wake of the Snowden revelations. The bill has had a long and complicated legislative history that we have traced over the past two years and it still needs to be approved by the Senate. If passed it would end the bulk collection of domestic phone metadata that was the subject of the very first Snowden revelation.

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Edward Snowden calls out Dianne Feinstein

In the wake of Dianne Feinstein’s accusations of CIA interference with investigations by the Senate Intelligence Committee – including accessing and searching the committee’s computers  – Edward Snowden has criticised Senator Feinstein’s selective outrage, pointing out that her opposition to state surveillance sits oddly with her acquiescence to routine interference with the private communications of ordinary citizens.

As Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Feinstein shares responsibility for overseeing the US intelligence community, including the NSA. In late 2013, Feinstein introduced a Bill that has generally been seen as an attempt to strengthen the hand of the agency and secure its authority for domestic bulk collection.

In a statement to NBC News, Edward Snowden said:

It’s clear the CIA was trying to play ‘keep away’ with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that’s a serious constitutional concern.

But it’s equally if not more concerning that we’re seeing another ‘Merkel Effect,’ where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.