June 1, 2015 is a very important day for American civil liberties and the Constitution. On that day, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, one of the most egregious pieces of legislation passed in U.S. history, will expire automatically without reauthorization from Congress. Naturally, this is causing a panic attack within the heart of the NSA, FBI and all the authoritarian lackey legislators in Washington D.C. With the chances of a clean reauthorization next to none, these crafty “representatives” and their puppeteers need to figure out a way to sneak it into another piece of legislation. What better way to do this than making it a part of something that ostensibly appears to be reining in surveillance powers. Enter the USA Freedom Act.
April 17, 2015 Backed up against a rapidly approaching do-or-die deadline, bipartisan lawmakers are poised to introduce legislation next week that would roll back the National Security Agency’s expansive surveillance powers.
The legislation could land as soon as Tuesday in the House, congressional aides and privacy advocates said, who would only speak on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, would effectively end the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone metadata—the numbers, time stamps, and duration of a call but not its actual content—by instead relying on phone companies to retain that data. The program is the first and one of the most controversial spying programs exposed by the Edward Snowden leaks that began nearly two years ago.
Whatever the strategy, lawmakers in both chambers need to move quickly, since the bill’s introduction arrives as the window of opportunity for reforming the nation’s surveillance activities is rapidly closing. Core provisions of the post-9/11 Patriot Act are due to sunset on June 1, including the controversial Section 215, which the NSA uses to authorize its dragnet surveillance of Americans’ call data. The Freedom Act would reauthorize these authorities, preserving expiring capabilities the intelligence community has said are vital to national security while ushering in more strident privacy protections and transparency requirements.
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