Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the part of the law that grants the government the ability to collect data en masse, is set to expire on June 1, 2015. However, if Kentucky republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, it will continue to be in effect until at least 2020, reports the Washington Post
A new bill brought to the floor of Senate by McConnell proposes extending the Patriot Act and, by extension, the surveillance capabilities of the National Security Agency — specifically, the ability to collect phone data from millions of Americans under the guise of monitoring terrorist activity. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and North Carolina republican Richard Burr.
The bill comes two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the capabilities of the organization, delving into the spying methods of the U.S. government. Information continues to be released, and President Barack Obama has publicly called for an end to NSA’s data collection. The program is capable of collecting dialed numbers, as well as the time and date of call.
McConnell and Burr have invoked a Senate rule in filing the bill that allows them to bring the legislation straight to the floor of the senate, bypassing the standard vetting process done by senate committees. However, no date has been set for consideration.
Many politicians on all sides of the political spectrum have spoken negatively of the NSA’s ability to gather information on American civilians, including McConnell’s fellow Kentucky politician Rand Paul. A group of lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee have been working on a new version of legislation designed to strip the NSA of its ability to collect phone data in bulk. The initial version of their bill failed in the Senate last year, but a new version could be introduced as early as Wednesday.
- Senate blocks USA Freedom Act on data collection reform
- The NSA almost ended phone spying before Snowden leaks