Senators would curb NSA spying

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 8:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Spying by the National Security Agency has cost the United States economically and angered allies, a bipartisan group of senators said on Wednesday in presenting legislation that would end the collection of millions of Americans' phone records and data on Internet usage.

Three Democrats — Oregon's Ron Wyden, Mark Udall of Colorado and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky outlined their legislation to end long-standing NSA surveillance practices and open some of the actions of the secret federal court that reviews government surveillance requests.

The lawmakers argued that their bill is the appropriate response to disclosures this past summer about the sweeping surveillance programs — one that gathers U.S. phone records and another that is designed to track the use of U.S.-based Internet servers by foreigners with possible links to terrorism.

Wyden said the programs and revelations have undercut U.S. businesses required to provide data to the intelligence community while infuriating foreign leaders.

Earlier this week, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff accused the United States of violating her country's sovereignty by sweeping up data from billions of telephone calls and emails that have passed through Brazil, including her own.

In protest, Rousseff scuttled a scheduled state visit to the United States.

Efforts to rein in the once-secret surveillance programs have attracted an unusual coalition of liberal Democrats and libertarian Republicans, pitting them against House and Senate leaders who have expressed strong support for the NSA programs.

The bill would change current law to prohibit the bulk collection of Americans' phone records and their communications data. The government could still obtain records of anyone suspected of terrorism or espionage and of an individual in contact with a suspected terrorist or spy.

Paul said he did not understand how a “warrant that has 10 million unnamed people, all customers of Verizon,” is consistent with the Constitution.

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