President Barack Obama recently signed into law, the first reform in a decade limiting the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance on millions of citizens’ telephone conversations.
- The USA Freedom Act is now operational after the US Patriot Act, the post-9/11 measure permitting mass global surveillance by the NSA on an unprecedented scale, expired on May 31st, 2015 at midnight after attempts to extend it were blocked by Republican Senators.
- The USAFA represents the first major reform to the NSA’s mass surveillance of global communications that has been effected since whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the full extent of the spying programmes to the world in 2013, even though many called for further reform pointing out that spying on foreigners was untouched by this bill.
- The Patriot Act’s expiration effectively brought to an end the NSA’s bulk dragnet collection of telephone metadata relating to American citizens, executed under the Act’s notorious Section 215, and that included information on who called whom when, but not the actual content of the call.
- However, the USAFA still required such metadata collection by the major telecom companies of the U.S., and authorities may access the information only with a warrant from the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, after the NSA identifies a specific person or group of people suspected of terror ties.
Sources: The Hindu.