House of Representatives Cuts Funding to Key NSA Spying Programs

The House cut funding to two core NSA spying programs including one that gives the agency back door access to hardware and software tools.

nsa House spying

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade

The House of Representatives cut off all funding to two major NSA spying programs last Thursday.

The first program involved searches of collected surveillance data targeting Americans via the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the second made requests that hardware and software makers build backdoors into their tools to give the agency access to user data and communications.

Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgins told Wired the House vote sends “an unambiguous statement that there’s political will to do something about the issue of unchecked NSA spying.” From Wired:

Both of those funding bans represent a clear reaction against behavior revealed from the leaks of Edward Snowden, which have shown over the past year that the NSA subverted cryptography standards, diverted hardware shipments to plant bugs in products, and found other ways to gather raw communication data from Silicon Valley firms like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and others.

Privacy advocates were disappointed last month when a weak mandate called the USA Freedom bill — intended to reform NSA mass surveillance — passed the House. But unlike the Freedom bill, the defunding legislation was an amendment to an appropriations bill and as such did not have to pass the Intelligence Committee.

Some experts worry, however, that the scope of any future law might be limited (perhaps not covering the FBI, for example).