At 12.01 AM, Monday the powers of the US government to snoop into phone records expired. During the session of the Sentate held on Sunday, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky blocked an extension of this programme.
This signals an end to Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This section had generated a huge amount of debate. It was under this section that the National Security Agency had collected phone records of thousands of Americans despite them being associated with a crime or not.
What the does the expiry of Section 215 of the Patriot Act mean?
Let us find out what the immediate impacts are:
All investigations of phone records will stop:
Section 215 of the Patriot Act had stirred up a controversy. There were allegations that the National Security Agency was collecting phone records of Americans at random. The concern raised was that the NSA was snooping into phone records irrespective of the person being involved in a crime or not.
This section was also used by the FBI and the CIA to collect information relating to financial transactions. The FBI had also used the section to collect business records of Internet companies. [NSA scoops up millions of text messages a day: Report]
With this section expiring all new probes of phone records under Section 215 will stop. However there is a clause which suggests that investigations which are underway would not stop.
Lone wolf provision expires:
Another part that comes to an end is the lone wolf provision of law. As long as this provision was present the intelligence agencies in the US were able to place suspected terrorists under surveillance irrespective of them being part of a terror group or not. The
Senate would need to come to a consensus on this issue in the wake of the lone wolf terror menace growing.
Further the provision for roving wiretap also expired. Under this provision the intelligence agencies could monitor a specific phone or electronic device belonging to a person. This provided for the intelligence agencies to keep a track of the data regardless of the person changing as many devices or phones he or she wanted.