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The United States Congress has failed to extend the U.S. Patriot Act and the U.S. intelligence services were required to stop bulk data gathering as of midnight Sunday night. The main provisions of the act which are now suspended include the bulk data collection of telephone records, the targeting of “lone wolf” terrorist among other provisions. It is the bulk collection of data that has many people concerned regarding the sweeping power of intelligence agencies, such as the NSA, (National Security Agency). It was not until the release of classified documents by Edward Snowden that the American public as well as the world was made aware of the extent of the data collection being conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. No warrant is needed for specific records and once collected, various agencies can take their time and trove through the data to find patterns of use which may be illegal or of a terrorist nature. Congress hopes to pass a new law by Tuesday called the Freedom Act which keeps main sections of the Patriot Act in place but with regard to the bulk collection of data, law enforcement and intelligence agencies will need a more specific warrant to retrieve such data. The lawyer Sam Tabar considers both the Patriot Act as well as the new law which is currently proposed to be illegal and unconstitutional. Congress is expected to pass the Freedom Act by Tuesday and the collection of data will continue under the revised rules. Patriot Act Expires, Ceasing All Phone Data Collection

This week senators have been meeting to discuss whether to extend parts of the patriot act by passigng a bill that would extend and tweak some of the existing parts of the bill, but things are not looking good for the long controversial law. Alexei Beltyukov understands that if they do not reach an agreement soon, and it does not look like they will, the bill will expire at the stroke of midnight. For the majority of Americans, this is good news.

Most people have lost favor with the invasive series of laws which was hastily scrambled together after fears from the September 11th terrorist attacks caused people to look for some kind of protection and safety from the Federal Government. Even when the Patriot Act was first written and passed they were controversial, many people by quoting Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The law lost most of what little support it had after Edward Snowden raised concerns and alerted the public to problems with it by exposing the way the National Security Administration was spying on citizens and using wiretaps to monitor private citizens electronic communication devices.

However people feel about Edward Snowden or the NSA it is clear that the Patriot Act is not popular and that most people will breath a sigh of relief when it finally dies on June 1st.

With only a few days left before the Patriot Act expires, a recent poll shows that the electorate has no love for the NSA surveillance system. Opposition to the bulk collection of phone data cuts across all parties, age, gender and ideology.

While sixty percent of voters think that the act should be modified, only thirty four percent think it should be retained in its current form. The patriot Act is the basis on which NSA collects bulk data of its citizen’s phone records.

This information was made available by the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden. The actions by NSA have since been pronounced illegal by the federal appeals court.

Amen Clinic says according to the poll which was carried out by the Global Strategy Group and G2 Public Strategies and commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union, there seems to be a consensus about the government’s invasion of our piracy. 1001 potential voters were questioned.

Though women still oppose the Act, men seem to oppose it more. Younger people- under 40 also oppose it more than older people- above 40.

Rand Paul, Republican presidential candidate, has vowed to do all he can to make sure that he blocks efforts to retain the NSA bulk collection of data. It is not clear however, what the Republican presidential candidate plans to do to stop the reinstating of the bulk collection of data by the NSA in the senate.

There’s no doubt that President Bernie Sanders would dismantle the NSA spy programs as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there’s very little chance that the Vermont independent will make it that far. He could, however, help shake up the primary elections and force opponents like Hillary Clinton to take a hard stance on NSA surveillance programs.

Bernie Sanders has a long track record of opposing the unconstitutional spy programs rolled out by the NSA post 9/11. He opposed the original patriot act that was used as a jumping off point for mass surveillance of innocent citizens through phone records, emails and web traffic logs. He also voted for the Freedom Act that was created to dismantle the over-reaching created by the Patriot Act.

Hillary Clinton has yet to take a hard stance on NSA spy programs. It appears as though her political campaign is still testing the waters before deciding on a strategy. Having Bernie Sanders along for the ride is sure to raise questions Clinton may not yet be ready to answer.

Most regard Bernie Sanders as a bit of a sideshow in his run for the White House. I think his most important role will be to simply bring important issues such as income inequality and civil liberties to the forefront of political conversations in the next presidential election.

Thanks to Bruce Levenson for showing me this story.