Edward Snowden supporters were claiming victory for the privacy of millions of US citizens today, after the Obama administration seemingly decided not to seek a 90-day extension to allow g-men to collect bulk phone records.
That surprise move, reported by the Guardian, came following the defeat of the USA Freedom Act in the Senate this morning.
The proposed legislation, which was waved through by the House of Representatives earlier this month, had been designed, not only to end the National Security Agency's bulk phone records collection, but also to replace a provision in the 2001 Patriot Act (section 215) that – until 1 June, at least – allows Feds to slurp US citizens' communications metadata.
Now, that measure looks set to lapse, after the White House apparently declined to apply for approval from a secret surveillance court (FISA) to secure a 90-day extension for the controversial US snooping programme.
An official from the Obama administration told the Graun: "We did not file an application for reauthorisation."
The result: as of 1 June this year, the NSA will no longer have legal cover to gather phone records to try to hunt down suspected terrorists.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers will return to debate surveillance legislation at the Senate on 31 May, when some will lobby for a last-gasp extension, although, if the Guardian report is accurate, the deadline for such requests expired on Friday.
Earlier today, Senators including Mitch McConnell had tried and failed to pass short-term measures to overcome section 215's imminent lapse.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, whose 10 and half hour filibuster opposed the g-men's blanket surveillance of US citizens' phone records, tweeted:
The Senate will return one week from Sunday. With your help we can end illegal NSA spying once and for all.— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 23, 2015