Thanks to the leaks made by Edward Snowden two years ago, most people are now aware that the NSA has the power of unwarranted surveillance.
It was given this incredible power as part of the Patriot Act in 2001.
Privacy advocates have always fought against this unwarranted surveillance and stated that it’s unconstitutional, and many hoped it would go away when the act expires on June 1st.
However now it would appear that this is not going to happen.
Last Tuesday, 21st of April, US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill to expand the most crucial part of the act, Section 215, until 2020.
Section 215 has been controversial since its inception and McConnell’s support for reauthorizing the bill is at odds with the views of the candidate he has endorsed for president, Sen. Rand Paul, who pledged to end the NSA surveillance program, which he described as “Unconstitutional Surveillance,” should he be elected.
What’s also surprising about McConnell’s maneuver is that it includes no attempt to reform the NSA program, which is what many Americans have called for.
In fact, the bill appears to be an attempt to thwart a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who had planned to reintroduce a surveillance-reform bill, which would have effectively ended the NSA’s dragnet of American’s call data.
Sen. Patrick Leahy who has also crafted an NSA reform bill, blasted McConnell for attempting to bypass the legislative process for this, promising that this “tone-deaf attempt to pave the way for five and a half more years of unchecked surveillance will not succeed.”
The bill itself has received a great deal of criticism already online, with privacy advocates describing it as a kick in the stomach for all those who care about their personal privacy.
Others took to Reddit, where they described McConnell as a traitor.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, have stated that they vigorously oppose the bill, and have taken the chance to promote fight215.org, a website dedicated to fighting what they describe as unlawful surveillance of the public.
As well as this they state that the program has not even been effective, stating that it has not prevented a single terrorist attack, which is what it was set up to do.
With an election on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the bill pans out.
With the opposition that exists to the surveillance program, it is somewhat difficult to see the bill passing, but it is somewhat scary to see what support still exists at the highest level for warrantless surveillance of all citizens.
Whatever happens, the US government will have to make their decision by June 1st, whether to let the bill expire, or to introduce once more.
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