June 1, Section 215 of the Patriot Act will expire unless reauthorized by Congress. Section 215 is the authority, claimed by the NSA (National Security Agency) since 2006, that allows the government to collect and store mass phone metadata.
Metadata is essentially describes or summarizes other data. When pieced together, metadata can show, in great detail, what a person is saying or doing. With cellphones, they can not only track who you talk to, but where you go. Obtained documents and interviews with intelligence officials reveal that the NSA gathers nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.
Over the past month, Republican leaders of the House Intelligence Committee had closed door meetings between Congressional members and national intelligence representatives.
The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said if metadata is taken away and some untoward incident happens that could have been thwarted he hopes that everyone involved in that decision will assume responsibility.
A new bill brought to the floor of Senate by McConnell proposes extending the Patriot Act and, by extension, the surveillance capabilities of the National Security Agency — specifically, the ability to collect phone data from millions of Americans under the guise of monitoring terrorist activity. The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and North Carolina republican Richard Burr.
The bill comes two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the capabilities of the organization, delving into the spying methods of the U.S. government. Information continues to be released, and President Barack Obama has publicly called for an end to NSA’s data collection. The program is capable of collecting dialed numbers, as well as the time and date of call.
McConnell and Burr have invoked a Senate rule in filing the bill that allows them to bring the legislation straight to the floor of the senate, bypassing the standard vetting process done by senate committees. However, no date has been set for consideration.