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  • Opponents of the USA Freedom Act said the NSA

    Opponents of the USA Freedom Act said the NSA's bulk collection of phone call data is needed to foil domestic terror plots. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 November 2014

Until late 2015, there are now no signs of any major U.S. policy changes stemming from the leaks of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

A bill to bring the National Security Agency's bulk collection of telephone records to a grinding halt was voted down by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

“I will continue to fight to preserve our constitution and our rights as Americans,” the bill's sponsor, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said after the vote.

Despite enjoying backing from a mix of Republicans and Democrats, the USA Freedom Act fell two votes short of being advanced. Fifty eight senators voted in favor of the bill, while 42 opposed it.

Opponents of the bill said the NSA's bulk collection of phone call data is needed to foil domestic terror plots. Research by the nonprofit New America Foundation earlier this year found the controversial mass surveillance program has had “no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”

If the bill had been passed by the Senate, the NSA would have been forced to apply for a court order to obtain specific individual's communications records from companies, instead of conducting mass hoovering of metadata.

Despite the House of Representatives passing a watered down version of the bill months ago, the proposed legislation is now unlikely to reemerge in the Senate in the near future.

However, the current law used to justify the NSA's mass data collection program is set to expire at the end of 2015, and will need congressional approval to be extended.

Until then, there are no signs of any major U.S. policy changes stemming from the leaks of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.


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