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NSA reform bill killed in U.S. Senate

A bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy and supported by a coalition of technology companies designed to curb NSA data collection had undergone a Senate vote and failed by two votes. The USA Freedom Act fell short of the 60 votes needed to pass, garnering 58 votes in favor and 42 against.

If it had passed, the bill would introduce sweeping changes with the NSA with the organization no longer collecting bulk phone records from Americans. The records would stay with the phone companies where a court order would release the data, according to the NYT:

Analysts would still have been able to perform contact chaining, but they would be required to use a new kind of court order to swiftly obtain those records that were linked, up to two layers away, to a suspect, even when held by different phone companies.

Given that the provision of the Patriot Act requiring phone companies to hand over their customers' records to the NSA would expire in June, the government must work hard to introduce new legislation to obtain such information in the interest of national security.

The USA Freedom Act was supported by the Obama Administration, the director of the NSA, and tech companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

Source: NYT

Chuong Nguyen
Chuong Nguyen

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. For news tips or to connect, please message him on the Signal messaging app at +1 (424) 666-7438. 

98 Comments
  • This is why I don't like conservatives...
  • You may not have heard but Obama expanded the Patriot act and both a Democratic House and Senate at the time passed it. Read the last sentence of the article genius...
  • I don't like Liberals either
  • President Obama did NOT extend the patriot act. The Patriot Act is the LAW of the Land. He only extended 3 provisions for 4 years. BIG DIFFERENCE from what you are saying.
  • Obama also enacted the NDAA...
  • Because the writers of the Bill included the funding of the Armed Forces in the Bill.(Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and defense-wide activities). So they basically forced the POTUS to sign it or not fund our troops. No one in their right mind would say no to a bill that would fund the troops, that's why the bill sailed through the house and senate..
  • If by NDAA you mean the National Defense Authorization Act then I don't see what is so controversial about Obama passing that.  It's just the bill for the US Millitary budget and it has been passed every year for the past 53 years according to Wiki... "This was the 53rd consecutive year that a National Defense Authorization Act has been passed." Care to elaborate?  
  • Indefinite detention Hitler style.
  • @Rockartisten, Ah yes.  That clause, which was embedded in the military budget bill passed by Congress, was actually just afirming that the goverment already had that authority due to the "Authorization of Military Force" act of 2001.  Why Congress feels the need to afirm existing laws is beyond me, but they do it all the time.  Anyway, similar to the Patriot Act of 2001, lots of people complained about it, but were mostly called unpatriotic because 911 had just happened.  Then everyone forgot about it and acted all surprised when it popped up again a decade later.  Anyway, the "Hitler style indefinite detention" laws have existed since 2001 and are the basis for holding prisoners in Gitmo without trials since 911.  Obama was actually reluctant to sign it, but he did anyway because it didn't actually do anything new and it was the only DOD budget bill that made it through congress.
  • Thank you sir. I love when people respond with facts and not emotions. Well done.
  • Your comment goes from saying Obama did not expand it to saying "well he only expanded 3 provisions" he expanded the NSA's power to circumvent the 4th Amendment.
  • Wrong. Those were included in the powers granted by the act by the previous administration. Go back and check the 3 provisions that he expanded. The 4th amendment was killed long before those provisions were extended
  • No again, you must read. He said Obama extended those provisions, not expanded them.
  • The last sentence says Obama admin supported this bill that would have restricted NSAs right to collect data.
  • @Trill Gates, You might want to re-read that last sentence before you talk down to others.  It is talking about Obama's support of the "Freedom Act" which is the current bill that got shot down and was meant to impose limits on the NSA.  The Patriot Act was passed in 2001 and expanded in 2007.  It has been extended, but not expanded in any meaningful way by the current administration.
  • Yes Trill Gates, do read the last sentence, before you put your foot in your mouth yet again.   "The USA Freedom Act was supported by the Obama Administration, the director of the NSA, and tech companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo."
  • Why stop there? There are so many reasons.
  • Both sides are corrupt. Libertarian is the only way to go now. Down with the establishment. Stay within the confines of the Constitution or risk imprisonment for treason.
  • +635
  • LOL
  • Do the libertarian thing and people die on the streets. It has no consideration for the less fortunate and allows big business to run reckless over the people.  No thanks for that form of "utopia".
  • People already die under government funded healthcare under socialized democracies. In the UK when an 18 and 70 year old needs heart surgery, only the 18 year old likely gets approved. In America both get the life saving procedure.
  • I have worked in US healthcare my entire working life.  Plenty of people die because they can't get access to the US private healthcare system.  Our healthcare outcomes in the US are ranked much worse than the UK and most other countries in the world even though we spend 3 times per capita what most of them spend on healthcare.  If you want to find examples of government being worse at something than the US private sector you have probably picked the worst example possible to make your case.  Start looking elsewhere.  The US healthcare system (as it has existed for the past 30+ years) is not defendable in any debate based on factual information and rational thought.
  • False, that's such a blatant lie. No one is denied care in the US. I've seen illegal immigrants get state of the art care at ER's. It's such a lie to say any poor people die in US hospitals because of no insurance.
  • No one is denied emergency care. That's a huge distinction.
  • You're never heard of people being denied of coverage for pre-existing condition either. What happens to those people? Oh yeah, you won't see that on foxnews.
  • @Trill Gates, Why would I lie about this?  I have worked in a U.S hospital for the past 17 years.  People absolutely do go untreated and in some cases die from preventable diseases because they can't afford treatment or insurance.  Hospitals in the U.S. are legally required to provide ACUTE EMERGENCY care.  That means that if you are bleeding to death they have to stop the bleeding.  However, if you have a bad heart (your example) they don't have to perform heart surgery to fix your heart problems.  The ER will diagnose you with a heart condition, tell you to see a cardiologist, and send you on your way.  If you can't afford to see a cardiologist to fix your heart or your insurance won't pay for it then that is your problem.  The ER will treat you again when you have a heart attack, but there is a good chance you won't survive that.  To be clear, the people that work in my hospital want to do everything we can to help patients.  The hospital as a business wants to help patients.  I sit in tons of financial related meetings and the overall topic is always how to provide the best care with the money we have.  However, the system has been so badly broken for so long that there is only so much that can be done.  Most hospitals are stuggling to stay afloat.  My hospital actually got bought out by a large chain about a year ago so obviously we weren't exactly raking in the profits. If you honestly think that the U.S. healthcare system is great, take a moment to search for "healthcare outcomes by country" and "healthcare costs by country" and do some quick reading.  A pattern will emerge very quickly.  Then ask yourself, "why is the U.S. healthcare system ranked between #30 and #50 in the world yet we spend 2 to 3 times per capita what the top ranked countries spend?"  There is no logical reason for this and no rational reason to defend what is obviously an inefficient system.  Here is one of many examples... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health_systems_in_2000 Our own CIA ranks us slightly worse than this last time I checked. You should probably also question why your sources of information are misleading you by telling you that the US health system is better than the UK's or most other developed nations.  At best they are misinformed, but more likely they are purposely misleading you.  Why would you continue to get your "information" from sources that mislead you?
  • @Trill Gates Read Cleavitt76 post. Have you heard about patient dumping in the USA? And thats only one of the bad things that private healthcare systems bring to the table. Here you go, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1R9Z8oEPvI.
  • @Trill Gates Really? I'm from the UK, and I believe you are talking out of your anus.
  • I think that's where Rupert Murdock is from as well. The owner of that rubbish.
     
  • Utter rubbish Trill!!!!
    In the UK, we all get treated, regardless of income, age or insurance status (we do not have health insurance).
    Our health system is rated far higher than the US....yet we pay just a third of what you all do.
    Your system just protects the health of the richest - and it doesn't even do a particularly good job at that.
    So stop it with the lies and misinformation.
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/17/nhs-health
  • They both get that life saving surgery if they have the cash to pay for either insurance or the surgery it self. Right?! Here in the Netherlands, everyone gets basic life saving care, no doctor or hospital may sent someone away.
  • I'm with you. Uneducated people will say things like Jazmac said but that's because they don't actually understand libertarianism.
  • I think you mean you don't like Republicans. I'm a conservative, and I think most true conservatives would agree with the Democrats and Obama on this one. Conservatives are usually for smaller government, not larger.  This whole NSA debacle is a huge overstep of what the government should be doing.
  • Shh... Don't bring logic into this, oryan_Dunn. You have to be like Bill Maher and Peter Bright and think that conservative = Republican.
  • Republicans.  Really?  Some Republicans sponsored a pretty stern version of the USA Freedom Act in the House, only to see it watered down (and many Democrats were on board).  I wouldn't generalize between Republicans and Democrats on this because both parties have those who want strong protects against wiretapping, data collection, etc passed while others in both parties are against it. As for President Obama, he could direct the NSA to avoid data collection wherever possible.  If he's willing to do immigration reform through Executive action, why can't he also order the NSA to follow new guidelines for data collection?  Or could it just be a show to garner popular opinion. Even this Senate version was watered down with so many loopholes it would make your head spin.  They gave protections to the big companies, but main protection from civil lawsuits.  They created a system where the data could still be easily gotten, but cover could be given for Google, MS, etc.  That's why they supported it - it covered their backsides; at least it covered their profits. The original House version was much tougher and may be able to pass the House and Senate in January.  We'll see.  The new Republican majority could ingratiate itself to the public by passing popular measures such as a strong bill that protects people's privacy.  And if the President doesn't sign it, he becomes the villain. We could see some trades on things too - at least that has happened in the past when two sides have governed together.  A lot got done when Clinton was President and the GOP was in charge - at least until 1998.  Both sides compromised and some great things, like welfare reform, happened.  I hope we see that from both sides in the next two years.
  • I gather he like most presidents tries to reserve executive action as the last resort and when he sees no chance of a deal on the hill. This was very close to passing, in contrast to some other issues. And yes, lets hope for some compromises from both sides, even as the elections are approaching.
  • Well, in this case it's pretty fair to blame Senate Republicans for this. Only one Democrat voted against this and only one Republican voted for it. So of course this couldn't overcome the fillibuster.
  • LOL True conservative.  Like saying almost pregnant.  Just be an American that respects people more than money. That conservatism used to build for America with Dams, roads, bridges, and homes. That's what conservatism used to mean. Now its just a welcome mat for foreign governments that pay no duty to be in America and use our military like security guards.
  • Before anyone tries to take Jazmac too seriously, keep in mind that he said he would leave Windows Phone forever because HEADLINES of conservative news agencies would appear in Cortana, and he literally cannot even stand to see one. Don't worry, I'm sure he's open minded (:
  • I would consider it, correct. I don't like snot in my news.  I am NOT open minded to a entertainment news agency that produce fake stories and stats.
  • FYI, Harry Reid and the Democrats still control the Senate.
  • Right.  But not with enough of a majority to overcome the Republican filibuster. I hope the Democrats handle being the minority with significantly more maturity over the next couple of years.
  • Just a reminder before anyone starts complaining about election results... Congress is still led by Democrats until the new term begins in January.
  • You mean the Senate...
  • The Senate is part of Congress.
  • Lol. Posted via the Windows Phone Central App for Android
  • True, but the House sends bills to the Senate. It's a bit of a stretch to say Dems "control" Congress, especially considering how much divided Dems are on policy.
  • True Daniel. Congress has been ground to a halt with the divisiveness of the parties. My pastor once said to his Democrat father, "Why do you have Republican friends?" He replied, "We all want our country to succeed, we just have different ideas how to get there.". I try to remember this when I get to far either way in my thoughts.
  • I'm glad I don't live in the US
  • You might be glad but remember, this would have only applied to American citizens. The NSA will still freely snoop on the rest of the world.
  • Well, I'm not a barcode terrorist or anything so I doubt they'll bother me :P but still, they have no right...
    Fucking putos invading people's privacy
  • If you think your government doesn't spy on you, you are very wrong.
  • Oh I know and they piss me off too
  • I'm glad you don't live here either.
  • Thx :D
  • Welcome:)
  • At least we've got Cortana and the Microsoft Band ;)
  • I like this optimism c:
  • Mee too... But still they collect our data tooo....
  • Lol your reasoning makes zero sense.
  • It's about time..... I'm tired of NSA spying people
  • What The actual Fuçk?!....
  • WOW and I just literally 5 mins ago, finished a documentary on Netflix called "Terms and Conditions May Apply" Talking about this stuff. Check it out if y'all haven't.
  • I'll check it out thanks
  • No prob!
  • "Terms and Conditions May Apply" is a fantastic docu, I highly recommend it too.
  • Perfect documentary. Saw it in school. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • If you took it to heart you probably wouldn't be using Android.
  • That's some Minority Report sh*t. So much for "anonimity" eh. So, I guess I'll be untagging all those anonimous things I click on now.
  • Yay! Wait what!?
  • It actually fell short by 1 vote, which is more dramatic.
     
  • I think you're thinking of the keystone pipeline bill, which the Democrats decided to kill.
  • All this politics is RUBBISH!!!
    Obama. Should start using executive order, you know the congress and the senate will do everything in their power to break a democratic president and VICE VERSA!!!!! Idiots
  • There's real danger in abusing executive power.  It sets a precedent so the other guys can do the same when they are in office.  The Washington Post had a great editorial piece on that yesterday urging President Obama to not unilaterally try to deal with immigration reform.  They created a scenario where newly elected Ted Cruz becomes President in 2016 with a Democratic Senate and decides to use Obama's precedent and act unilaterally.  President Bush abused Executive power so President Obama does as well.  We need to end that now.  That's why a liberal lawyer who voted for President Obama twice is leading the lawsuit against the President concerning abuse of power.  I hope it succeeds in order to pull back the power of the President, regardless of which party he/she is from. 
  • Speaking of Executive Orders not Executive Powers, how is it possible for a President to abuse a right given to him/her by the Constitution and by Congress? If Obama was trully abusing that right, he should be impeached, not just complained about.  But I don't see Congress doing any impeaching. Anyhow, Obama has issued less Executive Orders than every President before him going back to Theodore Roosevelt, except for JFK, Ford and GW Bush. So anyone who thinks Obama is issuing an abnormal amount of Executive Orders really just needs to sit back and stop listening to those dumb ass talk shows.
     
  • Lol you said it, its the media. Hysteria is Americas worst enemy. And I am ashamed my generation, the millennial, are the leading "hype beast" -_- Its only important if its on social media, and once its gone and done tending, well nobody gives a fuxk.
  • Thank goodness it didn't pass. For gods sake it was supported by the NSA itself, shouldn't that raise red flags plus it extended the Patriot Act to 2017! Stupid for the EFF and others to support this. Hypocritical much. Nothing about USA Freedom in this at all just like the Patriot Act wasn't patriot at all Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ahhh another example on how our forefathers didnt expect our lifespans to double and for set majorities to control most of everything. Ah capitalism how sweet the money smells.
  • Good job America
  • It is a good job. We should be grateful this didn't pass Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • even if this bill had passed, does anyone think that anything would really change?
  • If anyone thinks either the democrats or Republicans aren't liars and thieves your crazy. They are all slaves to money not the people or the greater good. Our government is so corrupt its amazing anything gets done. The NSA is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Look who wants to terrorize its own citizens in the name of.....
  • Should have disabled comments.  Or were they allowed to get that Thanksgiving arguement vibe?    Joking aside... damn shame.  There is a need to reform the NSA and it's true purpose.  Cause they appear to overlap on what the CIA and FBI do, and frankly I'm just seeing a great place to start with budget cuts.
  • Shhh...they are watching us right now from our front facing cameras!!
  • F Republicans, F Democrats, F liberals and F conservatives. The only true way to be is an open minded, educated human being. If you are one of those, then you would see certain truths both sides endorse and certain atrocities both sides endorse. Middle of the road is the only way to be. This NSA s**t is the beginning of a socialist tyranny. Anybody, and I mean anybody (government officials included), who thinks that what the NSA is doing with all of our information (and don't think they aren't collecting information from foreign citizens either) should be shot for treason and proclaimed a traitor. Its unconstitutional. If the government can't protect their citizens without violating our privacy and our rights, then they shouldn't be the government and the whole system should be overhauled.
  • Thanks to voters.
  • NSA should track only Americans leave the rest of the world alone!!!
  • such a shame... can't help but feel like dark days are ahead here in the US
  • Another failure of the U.S. Congress. More stink to add to the pile of stinky failures.
  • Not an unexpected outcome.
  • Conspiration
  • Am i only one thinking that our conversation will also be recorded by nsa!? ... ;):P
  • Those of you screaming left vs right should keep in mind that taking no action now means the patriot act will likely have no support for renewal next year.
  • 1st: Why has this political debate started, and why is it on this article? 2nd. I'm a fiscal conservative, but have never identified myself that way because apparently some time the past decade that has come to mean I hate the poor. To those who think so I would just like to clarify that Libertarians, Conservatives, Republicans and the like do indeed support business growth, but most of us believe that this growth itself helps the poor by growing the economy and lowering unemployment rates. Argue with us there please, but please don't accuse us of ignoring people of poverty. (this comment very generally targeted)
  • You did read the article, right?
  • The article is about NSA and Information privacy scandal, the comments have turned into a general Right left brawl including healthcare; that was my meaning.