Sen. Ron Wyden, co-sponsor of a bill to stop NSA data collection, berated NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander on Thursday in a Senate hearing. Ron Wyden Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) started producing real political blowback in July, with a bill that almost defunded the NSA.

Now, a group of reformist politicians is taking a more careful aim at stopping the agency’s controversial practices. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced a bill that would stop the NSA from collecting “bulk data”—like the database it has built of every American’s phone calls.

The bill, summarized here, amends two sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to specifically ban bulk collection of phone and electronic communications records, such as e-mail.

The government will still be able to get records of someone suspected of terrorism or espionage, but it prevents National Security Letters (NSLs) from being used for bulk data collection and requires more disclosure about how NSLs are used.     

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