Spending bill more than doubles money for privacy watchdog

The spending bill released on Tuesday evening more than doubles money for a small government watchdog that has gained new visibility amid the debate over the National Securitu Agency (NSA).

Under the terms of the bill, funding for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board (PCLOB) would go from up from the current $3.1 million to $7.5 million next year.

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That extra money “will enable the PCLOB to pursue its mission without delay,” Senate Democrats said in a summary of the bill released late on Tuesday.

The small privacy watchdog has been largely sidelined for years, but has slowly begun to play a larger role amid congressional efforts to rein in the NSA, following leaks from Edward Snowden.

The board was suggested by the 9/11 Commission but only got its first chairman last year, allowing it to finally hire staff, open an office and get to work.

Since then, it has issued a pair of reports on controversial aspects of the NSA’s spying. While the reports have sparked significant discussion among privacy advocates, however, they have had little substantive impact on policymaking.