WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday that would end the collection of Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency in an effort to undo a widely criticised security measure passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“The NSA’s sprawling phone records dragnet was born in secrecy, defended with lies and never stopped a single terrorist attack,” said Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, one of the bill’s main sponsors.
He and three other lawmakers introduced their bill to overhaul the Patriot Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, calling the data collection programme “unconstitutional.”
The Patriot Act’s counter-terrorism measure, Section 215, allowed the NSA to collect Americans’ telephone data in bulk.
Lawmakers accused the NSA of poor oversight of the programme after years of records had to be deleted for violating the law.
The programme, first disclosed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has been shut down for six months, the lawmakers said.
The bill is sponsored by Wyden, Republican Senator Rand Paul, Republican Representative Justin Amash and Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren.
(Reporting by Chris Sanders in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish)