[JURIST] Key provisions of the USA Patriot Act [text, PDF ] expired Monday after a late Senate Vote failed to establish an extension. The provisions that expired were in Section 215 of the act and included: the “Bulk Data Collection” provision, which allowed the government to collect data, the “Lone Wolf” provision, which allowed surveillance on individuals not directly tied to terrorist groups, and the “Roving Wiretaps” provision, which allowed the government to surveil all of a suspected terrorist’s communications. The Senate gathered to vote on the bill late Sunday, but fierce debate pushed the vote into the early hours of Monday morning. Although the Senate failed to establish an extension for the Patriot Act, they are set to vote on the USA Freedom Act [text; JURIST report] which is supposed to serve as a limit on government surveillance.
Several US lawmakers have called [JURIST report] for a review of the government’s surveillance activity in light of reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring. The focus on government surveillance policies comes largely as a result of revelations [JURIST backgrounder] by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden [JURIST news archive], who allegedly leaked classified documents, including PRISM and UPSTREAM, in 2013, exposing the scope and breadth of NSA surveillance activities. Several human rights groups have taken legal action challenging the NSA. In March rights groups filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in federal court against the NSA alleging that one of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs violates privacy rights and threatens free communication. The plaintiffs include the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Wikimedia. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] earlier this month that the Patriot Act does not authorize [JURIST report] the NSA to collect millions of Americans’ phone records.