Nine months after promising to overhaul the nation's spy program, President Barack Obama's deadline to make such changes has been extended for the third time.
According to National Journal,
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved a request from the Justice Department to renew the NSA's Section 215 telephony metadata program, part of the Patriot Act, on Friday. The program allows the NSA to spy on American citizens by collecting phone records.
The top-secret program was first made public by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, whose revelations forced him to take asylum in Russia. The program will now expire Dec. 5, unless it is re-upped again at that time.
In a January speech,
Obama promised immediate action that would scale back the program. He also said the government would not hold onto the phone records of private Americans it had been collecting, and that judicial finding would be required before a search is made in the data.
The program, however, was renewed 90 days later after the administration failed to come up with a new plan. The same thing was done 90 days after that. Friday's ruling means the government's practice of collecting call information will press on. Phone numbers and the start and end times of phone calls are being collected under the program.
Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, who serves as the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, introduced a bill
over the summer that would end the NSA's practice of metadata collection. Called the USA Freedom Act, the proposed law would also force changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which keeps an eye on the NSA's activities.
"Congress must ensure that this is the last time the government requests and the court approves the bulk collection of Americans' records," Leahy said, according to the National Journal story. "This announcement underscores, once again, that it is time for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to protect individual privacy."
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