In response to recent controversy over the NSA's collection of data, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed the USA Freedom Act. The Freedom Act, Leahy says, was designed “to safeguard Americans' privacy by prohibiting the indiscriminate collection of their data. It also provides for greater accountability and transparency of the government's surveillance programs."
The bill was blocked by Republican opposition with a tally of 58-42, falling two votes short of the 60-vote threshold.
The opposition, lead by Mitch McConnell, argues the bill would limit the NSA's ability to track and catch dangerous terrorists.
"Many of these fighters are familiar with America's intelligence capabilities, and many are savvy with communications," he said. "These are terrorists who know how to use encryption, and they how to change devices quickly. This is the worst time to be tying our hands behind our backs."
The bill would have allowed telephone companies to continue collecting our data, but it would be in the hands of the phone companies. A special court order would be needed for the government to retrieve these records, making it difficult for the NSA to access.
Even though the bill was denied, the phone record collection program of the Patriot Act is due to expire next year, which will bring more legislation on this issue if the NSA wants to continue to access citizen data.
The bill was supported strongly by the White House. Major technology companies, such as AOL, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Yahoo, have supported the bill as well, citing concerns over customer privacy.