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WASHINGTON: A bipartisan team of US lawmakers has introduced new legislation intended to curb the FBI’s sweeping surveillance powers, saying the bill helps close the loopholes that allow officials to seize Americans’ data without a warrant.

The bill follows more than a decade of debate over post-Sept. 11, 2001, surveillance powers that allow domestic law enforcement to warrantlessly scan the vast mountains of data gathered by America’s foreign surveillance apparatus.

Reforms in the proposed legislation include putting limits on searches of Americans’ communications without judicial authorization and a prohibition of so-called “backdoor” searches which invoke foreign intelligence justifications to spy on Americans.

“We’re introducing a bill that protects both Americans’ security and Americans’ liberty,” Senator Ron Wyden - a Democrat and a longtime critic of government surveillance - said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The White House and the FBI did not immediately return messages seeking comment, although executive branch officials have long insisted that the surveillance power - which expires at the end of the year - is a critical tool for fighting foreign espionage and terrorism and have lobbied for its reauthorization.

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