Just over a month remains before Congress decides whether to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act – the controversial post-9/11 law that serves as the backbone for surveillance. Critics and supporters are lobbying Congress to either ensure their needs are met.
Several provisions of the Patriot Act, first signed during the Bush administration, are due to expire on June 1. The act’s ten provisions included enhancing domestic security against terrorists, improving intelligence gathering and sharing, as well as surveillance procedures. Critics say many of the provisions violate the US Constitution.
The most controversial provision is Section 215, which permits US law enforcement and surveillance agencies to collect phone records and business records. It is the section that the National Security Agency (NSA) claims gave it authority to conduct mass surveillance of US phone records – authority that was exposed by whistleblower and former contractor Edward Snowden.