The USA Freedom Act that Congress passed in June has finally gone into effect, replacing key parts of the Patriot Act dealing with NSA surveillance. Starting Sunday, Nov. 29, the NSA is no longer allowed to continue its bulk data collection of phone records and online metadata.
The collection program started with the Patriot Act in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attacks, but no one knew the full extent until Edward Snowden leaked confidential NSA records in 2013. Since then, we've been learning more about how extensively the NSA and other government agencies engage in domestic spying, and plenty of people don't like it. Of course, the spying isn't quite done yet.
While the NSA is no longer allowed to just pull whatever records it wants when it wants, it still can pull records if it gets a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Privacy advocates note that the NSA doesn't have to say why it needs the data. It just has to show that it's after something specific and not grabbing unnecessary information.
In addition, the NSA is keeping the data it's already collected. There are legal cases in the works to decide what happens to that data, and the NSA says it won't use it for surveillance in the meantime. Still, that's more than a decade of information in its possession.
The government also has some new spying tools not available that aren't limited to the NSA. Learn how StingRays work.
Do you think this change in the NSA spying is good, bad or doesn't matter? Let us know you thoughts in the comments.