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Individuals at the headquarters of the National Security Agency. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

The House voted Thursday to renew a major surveillance law hours after the president partially walked back a tweet criticizing the bill.

Why it matters: The law expires next week, and the Senate has yet to take the issue up. President Trump's tweet has now raised the profile of the debate over the law — which privacy advocates say picks up the communications of American citizens without a warrant.

The details:

  • The bill approved by the House on Thursday extends a law known as Section 702 — one part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — for six years. It also contains provisions that critics say will open the door to restarting searches based simply on whether a target is mentioned in collected communications. The vote was 256-164.
  • An amendment that would have limited the program — and helped to appease privacy advocates — failed to pass the House.
  • Section 702 is used to justify the digital surveillance of foreign nationals located abroad, though privacy activists say that programs operated under the law also gather the communications of American citizens.

The intrigue: Trump's tweet criticizing the law on Thursday morning roiled the debate ahead of the vote because the White House had already said he supported the bill. He walked it back two hours later, saying that "today’s vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!"

What's next?: The Senate still has to vote to reauthorize the law — and the clock is ticking.

This story has been updated to clarify the description of the surveillance law.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

500 Hong Kong police officers raid pro-democracy newspaper

Chief Operations Officer Chow Tat Kuen (front 2nd R) is escorted by police from the Apple Daily newspaper offices before being put into a waiting vehicle in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong's Apple Daily said 500 police officers searched the pro-democracy newspaper's offices and arrested five senior executives on Thursday.

Why it matters: The arrests of the paper's chief editor, Ryan Law, along with its chief operating officer, two other editors and the CEO of Next Digital, which operates Apple Daily, were made under China's national security law — which gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom.

World Bank rejects El Salvador's request to help implement bitcoin

President Nayib Bukele, giving a speech in El Salvador's legislative assembly in San Salvado earlier this month, pushed for bitcoin to become legal tender. Photo: Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador's request to help the country implement Bitcoin as legal tender, Reuters first reported late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The international lender's rejection could hamper the government's goal of making the digital currency accepted across the country within three months.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.