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US Senate votes to reinstate expired FBI tools to investigate terrorism and espionage
Photo credit: Stephanie Sundier
US Senate votes to reinstate expired FBI tools to investigate terrorism and espionage

The US Senate on Thursday approved the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act, which will reinstate expired FBI surveillance tools used for counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations.

The Act would restore the ability of the government to obtain secret court orders requiring third parties to hand over any “tangible thing” that is deemed relevant to national security investigations. This power, which expired in March, was granted to the government under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The Act would also provide new privacy protections, lowering the threshold for courts to appoint outside advisors in cases involving “sensitive matters.”

The bill passed in the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 80 to 16. The House of Representatives approved a version of the bill on March 11 by a vote of 278 to 136, but the bill passed by the Senate must now go to the House of Representatives to be approved.