Edward Snowden revealed that the US intelligence agencies was monitoring and collecting information outside of their jurisdiction, collecting data in what has been judged as an illegal action. With the actions previously claimed to be covered under section 215 of the Patriot Act, the legislation is largely in debate given that it expires at midnight on the 1st June 2015.
The USA Freedom Act is designed to renew parts of section 215 while also taking into consideration some objections regarding the mass collection of information. The new act ends the mass collection of phone data (such as the length of calls, who the calls are between and the duration of the call), but does not provide some of the reform which have been asked for. Some of the actions have been left out of the USA Freedom act are the deletion of information not related to cases, such as those found innocent of crimes, or the placement of a privacy advocate at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Senate rejected the measure (57-42 votes) and also rejected a 60-day extension to the current patriot act with 54-45 votes. With the senate in recess for the duration of Memorial Day, the senate will reconvene for a session on May 31st, just hours before the debated legislation expires.
Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who are active speakers about digital privacy, have spoken out about their opinions, stating that they believe the USA Freedom Act does not do enough to reform the surveillance programs to something legal and meaningful to the public.
Senator Ron Wyden issued a statement shortly after the vote saying
“A decade after intelligence leaders secretly created a program to violate the privacy of millions of law-abiding Americans, we are on the verge of finally shutting it down. I’m confident that when Americans and the US Congress debate mass surveillance in the light of day we will finally close the door on the worst violations of Americans’ privacy”
With people speaking out so actively about the topic, and feeling so passionately about it, the topic is sure to be one for debate and discussion not just among politicians but citizens as well. With government making changes to current legislation to avoid legal action and to continue what have been deemed as illegal surveillance programs, America is not the only government in the world discussing mass surveillance, and I am sure it will not be the last.
Thank you Ars Technica for the information.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.