Sweeping intelligence capabilities exposed by Edward Snowden shut down when hawks concede defeat on first major surveillance reform in a generation.
Sweeping US surveillance powers – enjoyed by the National Security Agency since the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks – shut down at midnight on Monday after a dramatic Senate showdown that saw even the NSA’s biggest supporters concede that substantial reforms were now inevitable.
The expired provisions – subject to a ‘sunset’ clause from the beginning of June onwards – are likely to be replaced later this week with new legislation – the USA Freedom Act – that permanently bans the NSA from collecting telephone records in bulk and introduces new transparency rules for other surveillance activities. The USA Freedom Act – once passed – will be the first rollback of NSA surveillance since the seminal 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
But until then, in addition to the expiration of the NSA’s phone records collection – the FBI is prevented from using powers granted under the Patriot Act – including the pursuit of so-called ‘business records’ relating to internet use – hotel and rental car records – and credit card statements.
Both developments represent a remarkable capitulation for the Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – who had initially sought to simply extend the Patriot Act provisions – despite overwhelming support in the House of Representatives for the USA Freedom Act.
McConnell and his colleagues who opposed reform were thwarted in their efforts by a growing backlash by Senate Republicans – and in particular his Kentucky colleague Senator Rand Paul.
This is the only realistic way forward’ acknowledged the Republican leader during a rare Sunday evening session – just hours before the Patriot Act was set to expire.
(ed:..would that we had real opposition to mass-surveillance here..eh..?
the labour party – little – nearly tripped on his shoelaces he was in such a rush to agree with the govt. plan to increase surveillance powers over us..
it was sickening/nausea-inducing to behold..
it is also sickening to behold how many of the authoritarian-left within the labour party have whispered not a word of opposition to this treachery from/by little..
they are as bad as/little different to the tories – when push comes to shove..
..just elite-supporting/poor-bashing sellouts..
..they don’t know how to ‘oppose’..
..and tho’ america is oft-(justifiably)-criticised on so many levels.
..here they seem to have got it right – and in doing so show their system sorta works – sometimes..
..certainly nothing for us – with our pathetic labour party/’opposition’ to mass-surveillance of nz citizens – to sneer at..eh..?..
..but those authoritarian lefties within the labour party – who support this big-brother state bullshit ..?
..them you can ‘sneer’ at – eh..?..fill yer boots..!..eh..?..)