The Senate has voted for reauthorization the USA Freedom Act, which brings the surveillance law closer to the law. The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act restores the government powers that expired in March with Section 215 of the Patriot Act. While the Senate passed an amendment to expand supervision, it made a proposal that would have restricted the lawless collection of Internet search and web browser data.
The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act allows law enforcement agencies to collect “tangible things” related to national security investigations without a warrant, and only requires the approval of a secret court that has reportedly stamped many requests. It was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, but remained in the Senate at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Today the senators approved it with 80 votes in favor and 1
The USA Freedom Act was developed to reform the Patriot Act and limit the collection of extensive telephone records after NSA contractor Edward Snowden announced in 2013. Surveillance critics, however, wanted to expand its limits in the newly authorized version. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have successfully passed an amendment to expand the role of independent advisors to the court of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Conversely, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT), with one voice, have not adopted a rule that prohibits guarantee-free surveillance of internet searches and record searches. Wyden finally voted against the renewed approval. “Legislation empowers the government to collect and surf the web, and Internet searches of Americans and other private information without guarantee that the Americans have done something wrong,” he said in a statement. “Without further reform of these vague and dangerous Patriot Act authorities, Congress is demanding more secret interpretations of the law and more abuses.”