On May 13, 2015, the House approved the end of the National Security Agency’s bulk phone data collection. Under the bipartisan bill, which passed 338 to 88, the Patriot Act will be changed to prohibit the NSA from collecting phone records. However, this does not mean that the NSA will not be allowed access to the records. Telecommunication companies keep these records, for billing purposes, for a period ranging from 18 months to five years. If the proper requirements are met, the NSA will still be able to ask companies for their data.
During the debate over the bill, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte commented that the Patriot Act was born out of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 and helped defend against future attacks, but that the nation must remain what it has always been: a beacon of freedom.
Still, banning the NSA from collecting phone data is a controversial decision. Reasonable people disagree about whether this decision will really help to keep us safe or whether this even affects our privacy. To read more about this debate, click here.