With government authorization, the NSA has been able to collect data on virtually every phone call made by United States citizens for years, but following the Senate’s failure to extend this authorization, the NSA has started the process of shutting down the controversial program. Because the Senate wasn’t able to agree on a way to temporarily extend the NSA’s authorization, the agency no longer has the legal protection it needs to continue collecting telephone records in bulk and has to shutter the program, at least for the time being.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has begun the process of winding down its controversial bulk collection of U.S. phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a way to temporarily extend the surveillance program, which expires at midnight June 1. The Senate, which debated into the early hours of Saturday, is now on a weeklong recess and will reconvene in a rare Sunday session on May 31. Just hours after the Senate failed to reach a deal, the NSA began the process of shuttering its surveillance program, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The process has begun,” an administration official said Saturday. Officials said the NSA program, which collected data such as the number dialed, duration, date, and time for most phone calls made by Americans, is complex and will require several days to shut down. The Senate impasse also threatens other parts of the Patriot Act, including one allowing the FBI to collect business records in terrorism investigations and another allowing the FBI to listen in on every phone used by a terrorism suspect without getting separate court warrants for each one.