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With the expiration of the Patriot Act on June 1, it seemed like a major victory had been achieved for privacy, and the NSA mass surveillance had been reined in. Bulk collection of phone records by the NSA came to an end the same day the act expired, but it seems it was just a temporary reprieve. A recent ruling by a secret court paves the way to restart the NSA’s bulk data collection program.

A day after the Patriot Act expired, the USA Freedom Act was passed, which greatly undercut the privacy victory brought about by the expiration of the Patriot Act. The USA Freedom Act reauthorized many of the provisions of the Patriot Act, but it did also bring in some minor reforms. Notably, it would significantly alter the NSA’s collection of phone records, by placing the burden on telecommunication companies to collect and store the records, and the NSA could only obtain specific records by court order. However, the law did contain a provision to allow the current surveillance program to continue for a 6 month transitional period.

While this loophole would seem to allow the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA for a 6 month period, there was one little snag: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the bulk collection of phone records was illegal because it was never explicitly authorized by the Patriot Act in the first place. In an entirely predictable move, the Obama administration took the matter to FISC, the rubber stamp court created by Congress to approve surveillance requests.

FISC ruled that the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA would be allowed to continue for the next 6 months, since that was clearly the intention of Congress when passing the USA Freedom Act. Regarding the previous ruling by the Second Circuit Court that the NSA’s actions had always been illegal, FISC “respectfully disagreed” and stated that Second Circuit rulings are not binding on FISC. With this ruling, the NSA is ready to restart its mass collection of phone records.

Do you think the bulk collection of phone records actually end after 6 months, or will it just be delayed further? Leave your comments below.

Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.

  • Audie Bakerson

    This is why any American adults reading this need to register as a republican and vote for Paul twice (primary and general election).

  • Cred

    rip freedom

    nah just kidding
    it was already dead

  • Typical

    good luck not getting ripped for this comment. there’s too much Identity politicing around here, besides, Paul isn’t his dad.

  • Audie Bakerson

    He is the only candidate who has spoken about ending this, and while a politician can easily just *say* something, it takes a lot more for an adult man to strap on a diper and talk on tv for hours without any breaks

  • Übermensch

    We’re all going to die!

  • Typical

    i’m just afraid with his subtle moves to become more electable he is going to turn into a typical repubbot.

  • LibertyZed

    Bernie Sanders also opposes bulk collections and spying on Americans in principle. This is not a left or right issue.

  • moose

    why do these acts always have obnoxious names? does anyone actually think that the indicator as to whether they have freedom is their government collecting phone records?

  • Rand Paul lost my support the moment he said Snowden should go to prison. Never mind the fact Paul made political capital out of Snowden’s revelations of NSA misdeeds. He is just another politician.

  • Typical

    generally it’s like what ( I think it was) carlin said. The name of the law is exactly opposite of the intent.