US Congress
US senators propose bill to end snooping  (Reuters) Reuters

US senators have proposed legislation to put an end to the National Security Agency's (NSA) programme that collects phone records of Americans in light of revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has introduced legislation that would reform domestic surveillance laws and the country's secret surveillance court.

The group includes Democrats Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal of Oregon, Colorado and Connecticut, respectively, and Republican Rand Paul from Kentucky.

They have proposed the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform bill, which would would prohibit bulk collection of Americans' communication records and put stricter privacy controls in place.

The act would set up a constitutional advocate to argue relevant cases before the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

Spying on Banking?

The European Union has threatened to suspend or even terminate the crucial EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme, after allegations that the NSA spied on bank-to-bank messaging via the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) network.

"The overbroad surveillance activities that have come to light over the last few months have shown how wide the gap between upholding the constitutional liberties of American citizens and protecting national security has become," Wyden said.

"The effect can be felt not only by the significant erosion of civil liberties domestically, but in the reduced credibility of the American government abroad and the significant impact on American economic interests. These reforms seek to close that gap and avoid the false choice of protecting security over the preservation of personal liberty."

"These reforms are the right thing to do, but they are also essential to the public believing that the system is complying with the law," Blumenthal said.

Growing Support for Reforms

While many US Congress members, including House leaders and members of the Intelligence Committee, still defend the surveillance programmes, the supporters of reforms have been growing in number.

The senators said they expect major reforms when Congress passes the National Defence Authorisation Act late in 2013 to sanction defence department programmes.