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Senate votes to extend Patriot Act provisions

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] voted Wednesday night to authorize three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive] set to expire on Sunday. The bill, passed [AP report] by a voice vote, would allow federal authorities to conduct "roving" wiretaps, to compel the production of business, medical, and library records, and to track so-called "lone wolf" suspects who are not affiliated with an organization or country, so long as they are not US citizens. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] criticized [press release] the lack of increased privacy protections:

I would have preferred to add oversight and judicial review improvements to any extension of expiring provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act. A bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced compromise legislation to the full Senate for consideration more than four months ago. Since then, I have worked with Senator Kyl, Senator Feinstein, members in the House, and the Senate leadership to make further improvements to this legislation, and the bill is strongly supported by the administration. The USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act should be an example of what Democrats and Republicans can accomplish when we work together but I understand some Republican Senators objected to passing the carefully crafted national security, oversight, and judicial review provisions in this legislation.

The House is scheduled to vote on extending the act Thursday.

In September, the Obama administration asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to extend [JURIST report] the Patriot Act. The Judiciary Committee voted to reauthorize [JURIST report] the three provisions in question in October. In December, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a constitutional challenge to the Patriot Act due to lack of standing. The US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] had previously ruled that certain provisions of the act were unconstitutional [JURIST report].

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