The USA Freedom Act has failed to clear the Senate
The United States Senate has just voted against the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 58-42, just two votes short of the 60 required to pass the bill, which would have ended the controversial phone record metadata collection by the National Security Agency (NSA), but the Senate wasn’t in favor of rolling back any of the NSA’s broad surveillance powers, according to NPR.
“I am disappointed by tonight’s vote, but I am not new to this fight,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, co-author of the bill, as quoted by GigaOm. “Over the past decade, I have consistently opposed extending USA Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act sunsets without including meaningful reforms. I have fought the status quo every step of the way in these efforts, but the broad coalition we have built in favor of the USA Freedom Act shows that we are gaining ground.”
While telecommunications companies would have still been able to collect the data in question, the records would have remained in their hands and a new type of court order would have been needed by the government in order to access the records. The companies would also no longer be required to hold the records longer that they normally would for business purposes.
“In the past five or six months, we have witnessed heightened U.S. national security concerns with terrorist threats, geopolitical problems, and cybersecurity challenges from Russia and China,” said David Fidler, professor of law at Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, as quoted by USA Today. “Addressing these concerns requires strong American intelligence and surveillance capabilities, creating the potential for stronger opposition to the Snowden-inspired reforms today than existed only a few months ago.”