15:46 GMT27 May 2020
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    Three key provisions in the US Patriot Act authorizing US government mass surveillance are expiring on Monday, American lawmakers have announced.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Senate convened on Sunday to consider legislation to replace the Patriot Act provisions, prior to their expiration at midnight.

    "The deadline to act is midnight tonight," US Senator Patrick Leahy said on the Senate floor on Sunday.

    Shortly before 10:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday (02:00 GMT on Monday), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed the Senate until noon on Monday, without taking action to replace the Patriot Act provisions. 

    Senator Leahy, the sponsor of the Freedom Act, stated that "if the Senate does not pass the… USA Freedom act, or if we amend it in any way, the authorities are going to expire."

    On Monday, the Senate will meet to reconsider the USA Freedom Act, which updates Patriot Act surveillance authorities and allegedly limits bulk data collection in the United States.

    It is currently unclear how the Senate will address the midnight expiration of the provisions. The Freedom Act effectively amends sections of the Patriot Act that will have expired by Monday.

    Senator Rand Paul, a vocal opponent of US government surveillance, said on the Senate floor that the Freedom Act "will pass." He then denounced the bulk data collection program as "arbitrary" and allowing the US government to "collect anything they want anytime they want."

    Numerous officials within the US intelligence community have given their support to the USA Freedom Act. US President Barack Obama has also supported the act and warned on Friday that a failure to pass it would leave the United States vulnerable to potential attacks.

    Defense and intelligence establishments in the United States have been at the center of controversy after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information on US National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs in 2013.


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    USA Freedom Act, US Senate, National Security Agency (NSA), Patrick Leahy
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