President Barack Obama has signed the bill on Tuesday reforming the government surveillance program in a few hours after it has been approved by the Senate. The USA Freedom Act eliminates the NSA’s powers to collect phone records.
The USA Freedom Act is the first legislation of the surveillance system of the U.S. since the big spying scandal that was revealed after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked the information, two years ago. The act was passed with defeating the three amendments proposed by Republican senators.
Since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the National Security Agency has been collecting bulk phone records from phone companies in the search for terrorist leads, but was not able to listen to the entire content. With this new restrictive measure the phone companies like AT&T will be able to keep the phone records for themselves. The NSA can no longer access any phone record without a reasonable suspicion and the consent of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, after submitting a request for records collection, because of emergence of certain keywords in the records.
According to Reuters, the new law will require from phone companies to collect and store phone records the same way they do it for billing purposes.
The USA Patriot Act from 2001 was shut down at midnight on Sunday, with the filibuster by Republican 2016 Presidential elections candidate Rand Paul, making the phone records program, along with two other controversial national surveillance programs expire. This new reform was passed by the House of Representatives last month and with the joint forces of Democrat senators and Republican senators, the bill was passed with a vote of 67-32.
According to Reuters, President Obama has tweeted that he is glad that the bill passed the Senate vote and wrote “I’ll sign it as soon as I get it” and he has done so late Tuesday.
There has been an overwhelming support of the Freedom Act, and according to Reuters the American Civil Liberties Union considers the act a milestone and has stated “The passage of the bill is an indication that comprehensive reform is possible, but it is not comprehensive reform in itself.”
The legislation will remain in effect until the 15th of December 2019.
The White House is expected to start the program as soon as possible and make sure that the transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is increased and after the signing of the bill by President Barack Obama, the executive must apply to the surveillance court for reauthorization. This act is expected to strengthen civil liberty safeguards and create greater public confidence in the government surveillance programs, as well as a great step in protection of the basic human rights