As expected, Congress was not able to come to a consensus regarding renewing three provisions of the Patriot Act, which expired about 30 minutes ago.
The three provisions – bulk data collection of metadata of all phones calls in the U.S., roving wiretap warrants (warrants on people, rather than a particular phone number) and the ability to use certain tools to track lone wolf terrorists that that cannot be tied to a particular terrorist group all expired at midnight eastern time on May 31st.
Congress will now go through the process of potentially passing a new law to address these issues. The USA Freedom Act, which makes changes to Section 215 but does not eliminate it, was passed by the House last week, but the Senate was not willing to go along with the House version.
CNN has reported on the story here; both sides have their version, which I will not subject you to in detail.
The President and the Department of Justice say they want the tool and it is valuable, but opponents say that it is an overreach and violates the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Some courts have agreed with those opponents.
Plan on hearing a lot noise from both sides; I assume that Congress will eventually come up with some plan. What that plan is, however, is unclear.
Some people say that the country is less safe now, but that is not completely clear. Several review boards have said that Section 215 was not essential to thwarting a single terror plot and the roving wiretap is only used about a hundred times a year.
We shall see what comes of this.