U.S. Republicans condemn NSA 'dragnet' spying program

WASHINGTON Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:34am IST

A National Security Agency (NSA) data gathering facility is seen in Bluffdale, about 25 miles (40 kms) south of Salt Lake City, Utah, December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

A National Security Agency (NSA) data gathering facility is seen in Bluffdale, about 25 miles (40 kms) south of Salt Lake City, Utah, December 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Republican Party on Friday condemned the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance program as a dragnet that violates the privacy rights of Americans and urged lawmakers to put a stop to it.

The vast collection of Americans' phone data revealed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has drawn a firestorm of criticism, prompting President Barack Obama to introduce reforms last week.

The measures fell short of dismantling U.S. electronic spying programs, including the portion of the USA Patriot Act, the post-9/11 law passed during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush, that allows the surveillance program.

The Republican National Committee condemned the massive collection of Americans' personal data in a resolution passed at its annual meeting on Friday.

"Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society and this program represents a gross infringement of the freedom of association and the right to privacy and goes far beyond even the permissive limits set by the Patriot Act," the resolution said.

The resolution urged Republican lawmakers to support legislation limiting the electronic surveillance program "to make it clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity, phone records and correspondence" in the United States is illegal.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and John Whitesides; Editing by Bill Trott and Meredith Mazzilli)

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