US court extends NSA surveillance rules in current form

A U.S. secret court has extended the authorization of the National Security Agency to continue surveillance of phone records in its current form after a reform bill ran into difficulties in the Senate.

Besides stopping the NSA from collecting bulk phone records of Americans from phone companies, the USA Freedom Act aimed to restrict the NSA’s access to these records by requiring the use of targeted selection terms.

It also has a provision for the appointment of a special advocate tasked with promoting privacy interests in closed proceedings in the secret court.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has reauthorized the NSA program for another 90 days at a request from the government, according to a statement Monday by the offices of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. The order expires Feb. 27.

In the wake of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the government was collecting bulk phone metadata of Americans from Verizon, President Obama announced reforms to the program earlier this year, including a plan to stop the NSA from collecting and holding the data from operators in bulk.

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