NSA Surveillance Reform Proceeds Through U.S. Senate, Faces Filibuster From Rand Paul

On Sunday, the U.S. Senate voted 77-12 to debate the Freedom Act, a bill which aims to reform the surveillance practices of the Patriot Act and end the NSA’s bulk collection of phone data. The Freedom Act has already passed the House of Representatives, but has been met with reproach in the U.S. Senate, particularly by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) who failed in an attempt to extend the NSA’s surveillance program. Regardless if the bill passes the senate, the Patriot Act’s provisions, which permit the NSA’s collection of phone records, will expire at midnight.

Political momentum for surveillance reform has been strong since Edward Snowden revealed the NSA has been collecting millions of our call records. Cries for reform were further solidified when a federal appeals court named the NSA’s bulk collection of phone data illegal, as reported by The New York Times. The Electronic Frontier Federation has noted that as many as 66 percent of U.S. citizens want the NSA’s collection of phone data to stop.

The proposed Freedom Act would end the bulk collection of data by the NSA, putting phone companies in sole charge of collecting phone records. If the Freedom Act is passed, the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies will have to request records from telecommunication providers instead of arbitrarily storing information in the NSA’s databanks. In other words, the government will no longer actively store your phone calls, but will still have legal access to your phone records upon request.

But presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) intends to filibuster the bill, as noted by a previous Inquisitr report.

“I have fought for several years now to end the invasive and illegal spying of the NSA on ordinary Americans. I am ready to debate how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty. Let me be clear, I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies.”

The BBC reports that Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster could delay a senate vote on the bill until Wednesday, making government surveillance programs effectively neutralized until the bill can be signed into law. Because of the U.S. Senate’s inability to act timely on reform, the United States’ intelligence apparatuses will be crippled.

President Barack Obama had already warned the senate that their inability to act on NSA surveillance reform could be disastrous for national security, as Reuters reported yesterday.

[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]