Sunday proved to be a crucial day in Washington as the US Senate could not come to a consensus regarding the authority of the National Security Agency’s policies, referred to as the Patriot Act, regarding telephone data collection. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Patriot Act was instituted shortly after 9/11 and allowed government surveillance of phone and data records in hopes of thwarting future terrorist attacks. One big opponent of the NSA’s policies was Senator Rand Paul (R) who also recently announced his presidential candidacy for 2016.
Sen. Paul said in regards to the program temporarily being shut down, “This is a victory no matter how you look at it. It might be short lived, but I hope that it provides a road for a robust debate, which will strengthen our intelligence community, while also respecting our Constitution.”
Other senators did not see the reasoning for ending data collection, including former presidential candidate John McCain (R-AZ) who questioned, “Isn’t this program as critical as it’s ever been since its inception given the fact that the Middle East is literally on fire?”
According to NBC News, the provisions of the Patriot Act that expired are:
- Section 215, which authorized the NSA’s bulk collection of telephone metadata.
- A “lone wolf” provision that gave intelligence agencies powers to follow terrorists who may not be affiliated with a terrorist group.
- Roving wiretaps, which gave intelligence agencies the ability to monitor someone who may use a number of different telephone lines to evade detection
Why is this so important? The argument here lies with the fact that it is an invasion of privacy because Americans should not be spied on, while others claim that this is essential in keeping an eye on terrorist conversations and activities to divert future terrorist attacks.
As terrorist groups continue to grow in numbers and have advanced technology at their fingertips, it is crucial for the government to ensure the American people that they will continue to have a strong position in ceasing any future attacks threating the United States. But what if the tactics for doing so invade on our fundamental right to privacy?
More legislation is expected this week to help restore some of the nation’s top secret security in what is called the USA Freedom Act. This legislation has already been passed in the House of Representatives and has support of several Senators as well as President Obama.
As 20somethings, do you think the NSA should be able to continue collecting phone data?
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