Tags: NSA/Surveillance | War on Terrorism | patriot act | section 215 | phone records | fbi | nsa

Patriot Act's Renewal Reignites Debate on Privacy vs. Security

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:06 AM

Among the portions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1 is Section 215,  which gives the National Security Agency authority to collect domestic phone call records and authorizes the FBI to follow the digital and paper trails of suspected spies and terrorists, The Washington Times reported.

Armed with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order, the FBI uses its authority  to collect "books, records, papers, documents, and other items" in its espionage, terror and criminal investigatory work.

The fate of the FBI's authority is linked to a battle among lawmakers over whether the NSA should continue to be allowed to legally collect, wholesale, the phone records of American citizens.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, backs reauthorization of the Patriot Act, The Hill reported.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has likewise argued that now was not the time to repeal a law that makes it easier for the NSA to gather material which could be helpful in the struggle against Islamist extremists, the Times reported.

During her confirmation hearings,  Loretta Lynch, the attorney general nominee, said that the court order provision in Section 215 provided "an effective check" against runaway surveillance, according to Roll Call.

Libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul and civil liberty groups oppose keeping Section 215 on the books, the Times reported.

Some lawmakers want to take a middle position — allowing the FBI to maintain its surveillance capabilities while ending the NSA's metadata collection authority.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is among them. "There is a huge difference between targeting suspected spies and terrorists, and sweeping up phone records from millions of law-abiding Americans," he told the Times.

If the Patriot Act provisions run out in June, the bureau's powers will go back to those it had in pre-9/11 days. It would likely need to obtain subpoena power from a grand jury or administratively provide justification for its surveillance actions, according to the Times.

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Among the portions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1 is Section 215, which gives the National Security Agency authority to collect domestic phone call records en masse but also helps the FBI track terror suspects.
patriot act, section 215, phone records, fbi, nsa, data
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2015-06-18
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:06 AM
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