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Wisconsin Congressman Sensenbrenner's NSA bill passes House

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - A watered-down effort to end the federal government's mass collection of phone calling records passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly Thursday morning.  

The vote was 303-121 in favor of a bill first proposed by Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner. He said he wished the USA Freedom Act could have done more. That was after it underwent some major changes this week.  

Privacy advocates and tech companies told the National Journal the bill has a number of loopholes and vaguely defined steps the government can take to maintain its current spying powers.

Sensenbrenner said he agrees with those who lament the changes -- but in the midst of intense negotiations this week, the bill still deserved approval.  

The new package requires the National Security Agency to stop retaining bulk collections of the phone numbers that Americans call, and at what times. Phone companies would keep those records for 18 months -- which most firms already do -- and the NSA can obtain court orders to check out connections to terrorist plots.  

The vote was Capitol Hill's first response to the concerns made almost a year ago by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The bill now goes to the Senate.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)