06:13 GMT01 April 2020
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    Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden welcomed Washington's decision to replace its controversial Patriot Act, but warned that the right to privacy in the United States still remains under threat.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed into law the USA Freedom Act as a replacement for the George W. Bush-era Patriot Act, that first allowed mass surveillance of US citizens. The new legislation limits, but does not entirely bar, intelligence agencies from bulk data collection.

    “Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen,” Snowden said in an op-ed in The New York Times published Thursday.

    The whistleblower added that the privacy of citizens is still threatened as NSA is partnering with the world’s most popular online services; technology companies are being pressured to work against their customers while billions of cellphone location records and internet users’ metadata are still being intercepted indiscriminately.

    “Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy — the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights — remains under threat,” Snowden stressed.

    In 2013, Edward Snowden started revealing classified documents, disclosing NSA’s mass surveillance practices, including spying on the US nationals and European officials. Following his revelations, the issue of private data security came into the spotlight in the United States and abroad.

    Western Leaders Exploit Terrorist Threat to Expand Surveillance Powers

    Snowden criticized the authorities of several democratic states for exploiting terrorist attacks to extend surveillance powers.

    Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, a number of Western countries have recently adopted or drafted new intelligence bills, which raised serious concerns about privacy among the public.

    “At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders,” Snowden said in an op-ed in The New York Times published Thursday.

    “Spymasters in Australia, Canada and France have exploited recent tragedies to seek intrusive new powers despite evidence such programs would not have prevented attacks.”

    Last month, Snowden lashed out at the recently adopted by the Australian government data retention laws, enabling it to spy on the country's citizens, labeling it a dangerous example of a liberal government’s violation of civil liberties.

    On May 5, the French National Assembly approved a new bill on expanding Internet and phone surveillance powers of intelligence agencies.

    Canada's Bill C-51, broadening intelligence services' mandate and allowing sharing personal information within state institutions and with other countries, passed its third reading in the parliament’s lower chamber in early May.


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    data collection, surveillance, Patriot Act, National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, United States
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