U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) departs the Senate after a vote on a bill to renew the National Security Agency's warrantless internet surveillance program, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 18, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a bill into law to renew a controversial foreign intelligence surveillance program.
The bill, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was set to expire on Friday, now got a six-year extension.
"The Act renews the authority of the United States under section 702 of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to collect foreign intelligence on foreign targets overseas," the White House said in a statement.
"It also permits our Nation's defenders to share information that prevents terrorist attacks and cyber crimes," it said.
The U.S. government has been highly criticized for secretly collecting phone and online data on U.S. and foreign citizens, following the 2013 leaks by the intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
In 2015, U.S. Congress voted to end a controversial surveillance program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which authorizes the U.S. National Security Agency's secret phone metadata collection on Americans.
Under Section 702, the U.S. government is supposed to target foreigners overseas without a warrant, but Americans' communications -- even those in the United States -- reportedly can be snared if they are part of conversations that the targets are having.