Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

NSA Bill on Fast Track; Lofgren Preps Security Provision

California Democratic Congressional Delegation

Lofgren (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leadership aides say that legislation to overhaul how the National Security Agency collects telephone metadata could come to the floor soon, while the Guardian reports that a group of House members led by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren will try to amend it with a provision to keep the NSA from exploiting any new Internet security vulnerabilities that it discovers.

The bill “could come up as early as next week,” a GOP leadership aide told CQ Roll Call’s John Gramlich, while cautioning that “nothing has been scheduled yet.” Leaders might expedite the vote on the legislation to avoid the possibility of attracting NSA-related policy riders on the annual defense authorization measure, which is also awaiting floor action, the aide said. (The NSA operates under the authority of the Defense Department.)

Lofgren’s amendment would bar the NSA “from weakening the encryption that many people rely on to keep their information secure online, or exploiting any internet security vulnerabilities it discovers,” writes the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman. Lofgren, who represents Silicon Valley, and her allies on the issue “want to prevent the NSA from ‘utilizing discovered zero-day flaws,’ or unfixed software security vulnerabilities, and entrench ‘the duty of the NSA and the government generally not to create them, nor to prolong the threat to the internet’ by failing to warn about those vulnerabilities,” Ackerman writes.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill on May 7, and the Intelligence Committee approved it the following day.

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