Congress has failed to reauthorise several key provisions in the PATRIOT Act, including one of its more controversial passages, Section 215, which authorised the NSA to collect the phone records of millions of potential terrorists, or as they’re more commonly known as, US citizens.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued the following statement: “A year and a half ago, the President worked worth both parties within Congress to draft a bill that would only keep the violations of privacy that we really liked. The resulting USA FREEDOM act (named after senators Bill Usa and Terrance Freedom, and not to be confused with the country or the state of being free) failed to pass before the midnight deadline, ensuring terrorists across the country are now racking up gigantic, un-monitorable phone bills.
“Teleconferencing, video chat, emojis. These are all options terrorists or teenagers excited about Game of Thrones could be exercising right now, without being monitored.”
Senator Mitch McConnell rushed to get the USA FREEDOM Act passed before the key provisions of the Patriot Act expired, but was blocked by fellow Republican Senator Rand Paul, who, unlike his father, is a politician.
Senator Paul will now propose three amendments to the act, limiting the government’s querying of records to “specific individual”, requiring governments to show “probable cause” rather than “relevance”, and to restrict all planned constitutional violations to “terrorists and foreigners”.
Senate rules require 30 hours of debate before a bill can be voted on and its expected that once the 30 hours has elapsed, the USA FREEDOM act will pass, rendering these expirations temporary. However, conservative commentators have already suggested that patriotic Americans should write down every time they make a phone call and mail it to the NSA to prove they have nothing to hide.
Matthew Farthing is the US reporter for The (un)Australian. He has been an outspoken critic of the PATRIOT Act ever since he learned the NSA could monitor how many times he’s drunkenly called Paul Rudd’s house.