NSA spying program renewed ahead of congressional showdown

Saturday, February 28, 2015
By Paul Martin

February 28, 2015

A federal court has renewed a National Security Agency program allowing for the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, highlighting a battle between the White House and Congress to reform the nature of mass surveillance in the country.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) gave a green light to the government to let the US telephone metadata collection program continue until June 1, when the provisions in the Patriot Act legalizing the practice will expire.

At that point, lawmakers will have the option of reauthorizing the law, allowing it to expire or replace it altogether.

Under the current program, the NSA can gather phone metadata, including call duration, location, and who called who and when, although the actual content of the phone conversations is off limits.

The government has thus far been required to reauthorize the program every 90 days. Friday’s renewal marks the fifth time the Obama administration has extend the program since promising to overhaul the United States domestic surveillance practices in January 2014.

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