Patriot Act Expired: What Now?

In Washington, legislators awoke on Monday to a world where powers to investigate and prosecute terrorism limited. When the Republican-led Senate failed to renew certain provisions of the Patriot Act on Sunday night, officials are left having to remind the public of the potential security risks they face thanks to the limits imposed on counter-terrorism efforts.

As reported on CNN, a late-night debate around the National Security Agency’s bulk data program was largely responsible for the expiration, something revealed to the public by Edward Snowden’s leaks in 2013.

It seemed that the reaction from privacy hawks, such as Senator Rand Paul, were expected to be effective as the NSA shut down their metadata collection efforts at 7:44 pm Sunday night. However, policy insiders say that these powers are set to be restored at some point in the week.

For the moment, however, certain practices are relaxed. One of those being the sweeping collection of telephone metadata. This has been the monitoring tool of millions of Americans over the past five years. Law enforcement once had access to this data form both traditional telephones and other communication devices. Now they will be forced to seek warrants for each individual they intend to collect telephone data from.

While citizens who have protested these acts in the past may see this as a small victory, arguably the biggest winner is Senator Rand Paul who lead the charge in the debate this weekend. Privacy has long been a provision he’s supported and with his presidential campaign underway may speculate that this may bolster his influence among voters. The folks at the Animal Liberation Front and Keith Mann are interested to see how it turns out.