Edward Snowden. (Freedom of the Press Foundation/YouTube)
WASHINGTON, June 14 (UPI) -- Senators critical of the National Security Agency's surveillance programs are introducing legislation to curtail collection of data.
A bill proposed by Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Ron Wyden D-Ore., would require a demonstrated link to terrorists or international spies for the intelligence community to collect phone data, requiring "reasonable grounds" that data collection is relevant to an "authorized investigation" of terrorists or espionage programs, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported Friday.
Another proposed bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., and an effort led by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, would declassify some court rulings made by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that authorize data-mining programs, the newspaper said.
The introduction of the bills came after U.S. lawmakers were briefed on the whereabouts of rogue ex-contractor Edward Snowden who revealed the scope of the data collection.
U.S. officials expressed concern the 29-year-old computer whiz may try to defect to China with a trove of top-secret U.S. information, ABC News reported.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, said, Snowden "chose to go to China, a country that's cyberattacking us every single day, taking billions of dollars of American business data."
U.S. officials allege Beijing engages in cyberspying against U.S. corporations. Officials have complained repeatedly about this to their counterparts in China.
China's Foreign Ministry repeated to The Wall Street Journal Thursday China is a hacking victim, not a hacking perpetrator.
The FBI has said it has launched a criminal investigation against Snowden and is taking "all necessary steps" to prosecute him for exposing secret U.S. surveillance programs.
"These disclosures have caused significant harm to our nation and to our safety. We are taking all necessary steps to hold the person responsible for these disclosures," FBI Director Robert Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday.
Snowden's supporters argue his actions opened up a much-needed debate on the balance between security and privacy in the modern world.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported Snowden took four laptops filled with secrets with him when he fled to Hong Kong from Hawaii last month.