Rand Paul bids adieu to the Patriot Act
The Bush-era Patriot Act is on its way out, getting the biggest push from Senator Rand Paul. The slashed act will most probably be replaced by a new legislation - the USA Freedom Act. The new act will introduce transparency in surveillance and permanently ban NSA from getting phone records. This USA Freedom Act is the first rollback of NSA surveillance since 1978.
45 days after the 9/11 attacks, the USA PATRIOT Act that stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism" came into effect on October 26, 2001. This was a move to counter terrorism which essentially made it easier for NSA and other intelligence agencies to share information.
The Bush administration through the Patriot Act allowed for records to be searched. The National Security Agency could see records of any individual's activity. Section 213 allowed that private property could be searched without a notice under the act. The FBI has to just make a broad assertion that the records or phones were to be seen for an ongoing terrorism investigation.
"Patriot Act...set to expire...terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs this...to protect our citizens. You need to renew the Patriot Act."
The Congress sanctioned the USA Patriot Act Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005. 14 of the 16 'sunsetted' provisions related to amplified foreign intelligence and surveillance which were to expire were re-instated. Further a 4 year sunset on "the authority to conduct "roving" surveillance" and the authority to "request production of business records" under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was accorded.
US President Barack Obama had signed a 4 year extension of the Patriot Act in 2011, something that he hopes to repeat in 2015.
On 5 June 2013, documents from Edward Snowden were leaked. Snowden's documents revealed how the U.S. government had used Section 215 to snoop around the electronic data of its citizens. Earlier on 5 March 2012, Senator Ron Wyden broke his silence on the Patriot Act, warning that "most Americans would be stunned" of how the Section 215 was being interpreted by the government.
The Obama administration has been lobbying vociferously for the renewing of provisions such as the 'lone wolf' which allows random electronic monitoring, and that involving 'roving wiretaps' of the Patriot Act which are set to expire in June 2015. Obama openly critiqued the "handful of senators" opposing his stance. The biggest opposition comes from Rand Paul who strongly opposes the Patriot Act.