US passes bill aimed to stop massive phone call harvests

Updated: 2015-05-14 08:57


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US passes bill aimed to stop massive phone call harvests

Cayman Macdonald, a member of the protest group Code Pink, protests outside the US Department of Justice in Washington, in this January 17, 2014 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - US House on Wednesday passed a surveillance reform bill that would terminate a controversial National Security Agency (NSA) program harvesting information on millions of American phone calls.

Passing the House by an overwhelming vote of 338 to 88, the USA Freedom Act, which would prevent the NSA from collecting metadata about Americans' phone records, gained rare bipartisan support in the House.

Its fate in the US Senate, however, is less likely the same as Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports extending the Patriot Act adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack without any changes despite threats from several senators, including his own Republican colleagues, to filibuster any such move.

If Congress fails to act by May 31, pivotal parts of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the massive collection of metadata of American phone calls, will expire.

Wednesday's vote in the US House came almost two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the US government's underground program to collect data from millions of Americans' phone records.

NSA's data collection program is also recently on legally shaky ground, as a federal appeals court ruled last week that it does not allow the NSA to collect the data it has been collecting for at least nine years.