The US House of Representatives has given its backing to a bill that would curb the ability of the National Security Agency (NSA) to use its funds for warrantless wire-tapping investigations.
The NSA has been embroiled in the fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks of 2013 after it had to defend itself form accusations that it monitored US citizens' communications without the necessary warrants.
In a move to ensure this cannot happen congresswoman Zoe Lofgren filed a motion for a bill under the heading: "Prohibition on using funds to conduct warrantless searches for the communications of United States persons".
A vote on Thursday night in the House of Representatives passed the bill, with 293 backing it and 123 voting no. The motion applies to the US only.
Mark Rumold, staff attorney for civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he was pleased with the vote in a statement on the group's website. "The House voted overwhelmingly to cut funding for two of the NSA's invasive surveillance practices: the warrantless searching of Americans' international communications, and the practice of requiring companies to install vulnerabilities in communications products or services," he said.
"We applaud the House for taking this important first step, and we look forward to other elected officials standing up for our right to privacy."
The bill still has a way to travel yet, though, with the Senate and president Obama having to give approval before it becomes law.
The vote comes in stark contrast to the UK, where on Tuesday government officials claimed that any mass data gathering from telecoms cables would be entirely legal under UK law.