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Senate panel supports NSA data collection

The Senate Intelligence Committee advanced legislation Thursday that would tweak but not end the National Security Agency's program to collect records on all U.S. phone calls.

The move sets up a showdown with the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will soon take up legislation to end the controversial program.

The panel approved the bill, the FISA Improvements Act, in an 11-4 vote during a classified markup session.

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“The NSA call-records program is legal and subject to extensive congressional and judicial oversight, and I believe it contributes to our national security," Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the author of the bill, said in a statement.

"But more can and should be done to increase transparency and build public support for privacy protections in place," she said.

The phone data program, which the NSA says is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the agency to collect data, such as phone numbers, call times and call durations on all U.S. calls. The agency says it does not collect the contents of any conversations under the program.

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