We did it! The US House of Representatives, under pressure from a mass phone-in campaign, passed an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that prohibits the NSA from using its budget to sabotage Internet security or conduct "backdoor" mass surveillance. The amendment was passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support: 293 ayes, 123 nays, and 1 present. This isn't the end of the long project of reining in the NSA, but it's a very important first step. As a foreigner who isn't entitled to lobby Congress, I extend heartfelt thanks to all my American friends who took the time to call their lawmakers and demand adult supervision and lawful behavior from your out-of-control spies.
Currently, the NSA collects emails, browsing and chat history under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, and searches this information without a warrant for the communications of Americans—a practice known as "backdoor searches." The amendment would block the NSA from using any of its funding from this Defense Appropriations Bill to conduct such warrantless searches. In addition, the amendment would prohibit the NSA from using its budget to mandate or request that private companies and organizations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web.
EFF Statement on Passage of Massie-Lofgren Amendment Regarding NSA Backdoors [Rainey Reitman/EFF]
(Image: The Battered Leash, Keenan Browe, CC-BY-SA)