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Crucial US Senate test on ending bulk data collection

The US Senate was set to vote Tuesday on legislation that strengthens Americans’ privacy protections and brings an end to the government’s controversial electronic bulk data-collection program. The USA Freedom Act, backed by the White House and Silicon Valley groups, marks an ambitious bipartisan effort to reform the nation’s surveillance apparatus following the revelations of government spying 17 months ago by former security contractor Edward Snowden. The measure, which faces a 60-vote threshold to overcome blocking tactics and enter a debate period in the 100-member Senate, would rein in the National Security Agency, whose clandestine program has been scooping up vast amounts of electronic data on innocent US citizens as it pursued information on terror threats. It would replace the NSA’s blanket authority with a far narrower one allowing it to obtain call records from phone companies but only in specific cases.

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