A key provision of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA to legally spy on our phone records is set to expire soon. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a new bill that would renew it and allow the NSA to continue spying as usual.
Under the bill, Section 215 of the post-9/11 Patriot Act would be extended until December 31, 2020. The core provision, which the National Security Agency uses to justify its bulk collection of U.S. phone records, is currently due to expire on June 1.
Not all members of Congressn are onboard with McConnell's bill. A bipartisan group of legislators is working on a surveillance reform bill that would limit the NSA surveillance capabilities.
Senate Democrat Patrick Leahy is an outspoken opponent of the bill that would renew Section 215 of the Patriot Act. He says it will only continue an ineffective spying program. He'd prefer to see legislators working together on a bill that would preserve both Americans' privacy and national security. He's not alone.
"The Senate majority leader's bill makes no attempt to protect Americans' privacy or reform ongoing NSA surveillance programs that do not provide any tangible benefit to national security," said Harley Geiger, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology. "For Americans concerned about government intrusion in their lives, the bill is a kick in the stomach."
I just don't think a blanket renewal is a good idea, because the NSA shouldn't have free reign to collect our sensitive data. I hope Congress can come up with a way to keep the country safe without invading our privacy.