Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D – VT) is introducing a new bill aimed at reforming certain portions of the Patriot Act and the most recent FISA Amendments Act, sunsetting the massive digital surveillance authorization in the summer of 2015, meaning there could be an actual debate on the matter then.
Leahy’s bill would also alter the Patriot Act in a significant way by requiring the government to actual prove that any data scooped up under its provisions is actually relevant to a real investigation, and linked to a foreign target.
The most recent FISA act set surveillance authorization until the end of 2017, and most of the Senate leadership seems reluctant to reconsider that, but Leahy’s role as a committee chairman will ensure that the measure gets at least some consideration.
Leahy argues that June 2015 makes the most sense because there are other surveillance provisions set to expire then too, and Congress can debate them all in the context of one another at the same time. Of course, most of Congress seems to support the idea of a huge surveillance state, so stopping them even in 2015 is an uphill battle.