US Senate Approves USA Freedom Act

This afternoon the U.S. Senate approved the USA Freedom Act, a revised version of the Patriot Act, by a vote of 67-32. The legislation is intended to alter the way U.S. agencies conduct surveillance and gather data.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., lead sponsor in the House, made a statement saying it will “rein in the dragnet collection of data” by the NSA and others, and “increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer called the bill a “milestone” adding, “This is the most important surveillance reform bill since 1978, and its passage is an indication that Americans are no longer willing to give the intelligence agencies a blank check.”

Critics of the legislation say the act doesn’t go far enough to limit surveillance programs that can access databases of information about Americans, such as cellphone calls and email.

The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Obama tweeted today that he intends to sign the legislation “as soon as he can get it.”