US surveillance powers – which allow the National Security Agency to bulk collect phone data – have expired after the Senate failed to agree to a fresh deal. Key parts of the law, known as the Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, expired after Senators were unable to agree on legislation to extend the powers. Security services have now lost the power – albeit temporarily – to bulk collect phone records, affecting officers’ ability to carry out “roving wiretaps” of terror suspects and to target “lone wolf” suspects.
Republican Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul – a prominent critic of surveillance programmes – was the key factor in the failure to extend the programme. A vote on a revised bill, the Freedom Act, will be held in the coming days where surveillance powers will most likely be restored.