World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. National Surveillance Agency (NSA) has lost some of its powers to collect bulk information on Americans’ telephone calls and other business records.
The U.S. Senate on Sunday failed to extend three controversial Patriot Act provisions before a key deadline.
The George W. Bush-era USA Patriot Act’s controversial phone metadata collection program was hotly debated at extraordinary session at the Senate on Sunday as the bill was due to expire at midnight local time.
Denying unanimous consent for the bill to procedurally move forward Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is also running in next year's presidential election, blocked the extension of the program.
Paul described the NSA program as "a government intrusion on privacy rights."
Technically the metadata provision of the act, known as Section 215, and two lesser-known powers - a thus far unused “lone wolf” tool that allows law enforcement to gather intelligence on terror suspects not formally associated with organizations, and a roving wiretapping tool that allows for surveillance on all communications devices used by a terror suspect, expired.
The Senate will vote Tuesday to advance the USA Freedom Act, the House-passed surveillance reform bill, with the goal of reviving the expired anti-terrorism provisions sometime this week.
Senate majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused Paul and other opponents of the bill of carrying out "a campaign of demagoguery and disinformation launched in the wake of unlawful actions of Edward Snowden."
President Barack Obama also criticized Sen. Paul during his weekly address on Saturday saying: “Unfortunately, some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points."
"But this shouldn’t and can’t be about politics. This is a matter of national security,” the president added.
The existence of the NSA program was revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden in 2013, prompting calls for reform. The USA Patriot Act was signed into law by Republican President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The House passed the Freedom Act in a landslide 303-121 vote while the Senate on May 23 fell three votes short of the necessary 60 to pass the bill as lawmakers prepared for a one-week recess.
Under the Freedom Act, if passed, the NSA and other intelligence agencies would no longer be allowed to collect Americans’ communications records en masse.
Instead, businesses would be expected to hold on to the information until an intelligence agency received a court order based on a “specific selection term”.
President Obama has adamantly defended the bill, emphasizing that it revises the way intelligence agencies gain access to personal phone metadata.
Last Mod: 01 Haziran 2015, 11:44