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U.S. Senate Blocks NSA Data Collection Reform Bill

United States Senate voted Saturday, successfully blocking the USA Freedom Act, a piece of legislation aimed at aiding end the bulk collection of phone records from the National Security Agency (NSA).

The Senate also voted against provisions aimed at extending the NSA’s intrusive ways up til July 31 under the patriot act, including Section 215, which currently provides the legal framework for the NSA to operate their phone surveillance program.

Members joined Saturday over the Memorial Day weekend voting against the bills, and will rejoin on May 31st, where the Senate will try rehash a fair deal by June 1st, when the NSA’s Patriot Act provisions officially expire. The only way provisions would go back into effect is if reauthorized or voted back into effect under a piece of modified legislation.

The voting held Saturday introduced a new USA Freedom Act, which was rejected by a 57-42 vote, while votes aimed to extend the Patriot Act provisions were also denied in a 54-45 vote.

A majority of the Senate disagrees with the NSA’s bulk surveillance program revealed by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, in late 2013. Following revelations, the NSA was under high scrutiny for how such actions were authorized, til Section 215 was revealed, giving the NSA full political immunity.

However, the House of Representatives voted 338-88 last week, approving the USA Freedom Act. The proposed piece of legislation would allow the NSA or other law enforcement agencies to collect phone records from carriers at any time, further allowing the NSA to continue their mass phone record collection program.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican proposed a filibuster to block a vote extending Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Following Paul’s filibuster, he wrote on Twitter “the Senate will return one week from Sunday. With your help we can end illegal NSA spying once and for all.”

Rand Paul is not the only senator proposing Section 215 be terminated, many lawmakers and digital right groups have reached out to lawmakers, calling on Congress to let the NSA’s immunity expire.

One member of congress, Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky state Republican repeatedly tried to extend Section 215’s June 1st deadline to later dates set in June. All McConnell’s pleas were ignored and the Senate blocked the move for extension. Reports indicate that the NSA will begin to unravel its program if fair legislation is not put in place prior to the June 1 deadline.

Thus far no reforms or program revisions have been considered by congress.

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