US security services are facing a tricky period, following the lapse of The White House’s legal authority this week to gather all US citizens’ data through the Patriot Act, as the NSA and other agencies seek to defend national security.
The extension of the Patriot Act failed to reach a deal in the Senate this week. In its place, congressmen voted to back the White House’s new Freedom Act and this new form of Data collection is likely to be approved in the near future. The Freedom Act retains most of the Patriot Act revisions, but requires that records must be held by telecoms companies and that judicial warrants have to be made if the NSA needs to access specific information. It also explicitly prohibits the bulk collection of meta data.
Senate protagonist for change Rand Paul tweeted “It is officially a new day in America. A day with more liberty and freedom”. However, many of his Republican colleagues left the chamber in protest when he made his valedictory speech. Mr Paul is also a Presidential candidate and this position may lose him votes down the line if, it is seen by those like experienced Senator John McCain, that he is putting “ambition before the security of the nation”.
This follows the revelations of former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 and the ensuing public outcry which demanded increased transparency in Government and organisations to declare what data they collect, how it is stored and how it is used.