A proposal to block the NSA from using backdoor searches on US communications without warrants has been passed by the House of Representatives. The surprise vote, adopted 293-123, is an amendment to the 2015 Defense appropriations bill that would effectively prohibit the NSA from using funds to conduct warrantless searches. It’s also designed to prevent the NSA from using its budget to force companies and organizations to add backdoors to encryption standards and products.
"Tonight, the House of Representatives took an important first step in reining in the NSA," says Mark Rumold, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We applaud the House for taking this important first step, and we look forward to other elected officials standing up for our right to privacy." While there’s clear support for the vote result, the amended bill still needs to be approved by the Senate, and for President Obama to sign the legislation before it becomes law. Regardless of the end result, the unexpected vote shows a clear level of Congressional dissatisfaction with the NSA, and could pave the way for similar amendments elsewhere.