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US surveillance powers expire as the Senate fails to reach a deal on the Patriot Act

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

01 June 2015

This weekend, three controversial parts of the Patriot Act expired as Rand Paul mounted a successful attack on extensions to the bill.

After filibustering the passage of the Freedom Act two weeks ago, Paul had to watch the Senate vote to advance the bill, which means that a new form of data collection is likely to be approved in the coming weeks.

However, the Senate failed to reach a deal on extension to the Patriot Act, meaning that three parts of the Act expired at midnight on June 1st. These include the legal authority for US spy authorities to bulk collect the phone data of American citizens. In real terms, this mean that the security agencies in America have lost the right to implement their invasive surveillance programs – temporarily.

It’s a small if hollow victory for privacy advocates, as the Freedom Act is set to impose stricter controls in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. However, many will find it encouraging that Representatives are as concerned about these bills as they are.

The White House was quick to criticize the lapse in the program, stating:

“On a matter as critical as our national security, individual Senators must put aside their partisan motivations and act swiftly. The American people deserve nothing less.”

What for the extension will take in future or how they’ll be implemented are still to be seen. You can be sure, though, that surveillance will be back, one way or another.

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