THE UNITED STATES House of Representatives has passsed a bill that would prohibit the National Security Agency (NSA) from spending money on warrantless wire-tapping.
The NSA has been embroiled in the fallout from the Edward Snowden's leaks of 2013 after it was criticised for monitoring US citizens' communications without warrants.
In a move to ensure that NSA can't continue with its warrantless surveillance, congresswoman Zoe Lofgren filed a bill under the heading "Prohibition on using funds to conduct warrantless searches for the communications of United States persons".
A vote on Thursday night in the House of Representatives passed the bill, with 293 ayes and 123 voting nay. The motion applies to the US only.
Mark Rumold, staff attorney for civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), said he was pleased with the vote in a statement on the group's website. "The House voted overwhelmingly to cut funding for two of the NSA's invasive surveillance practices: the warrantless searching of Americans' international communications, and the practice of requiring companies to install vulnerabilities in communications products or services," he said.
"We applaud the House for taking this important first step, and we look forward to other elected officials standing up for our right to privacy."
The bill still has a way to travel yet, though, with the Senate having to concur and president Obama having to sign it before it can become law.
The vote comes in stark contrast to the UK, where on Tuesday government officials claimed that any mass data gathering from telecoms cables would be entirely legal under UK law. µ