Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens.

In May, the House approved a bill that would end the bulk collection of so-called telephone metadata, but time is running out for the Senate to approve a similar – and we hope stronger – version of the legislation.

After Snowden revealed that the government was vacuuming up telephone metadata – information about the source, destination and duration of phone calls – President Barack Obama was initially nonchalant, assuring the American people that there was no problem because “nobody is listening to your telephone calls.”

But the public soon realized that the government possessed information that could reveal a host of details about their daily lives. Ending bulk collection of telephone records and writing judicial review into the law wouldn’t address all the threats to Americans’ privacy revealed by Snowden.

Congress also must establish new safeguards for information about Americans “incidentally” collected in electronic surveillance of foreigners living abroad. But it would be an important first step in reestablishing an appropriate and overdue balance between national security and personal privacy.

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