WASHINGTON — Congress gave final approval on Friday to a bill extending the government’s power to intercept electronic communications of spy and terrorism suspects, after the Senate voted down proposals from several Democrats and Republicans to increase protections of civil liberties and privacy.Read the rest here.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 73 to 23, clearing it for approval by President Obama, who strongly supports it. Intelligence agencies said the bill was their highest legislative priority.
Critics of the bill, including Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Democrat, and Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, expressed concern that electronic surveillance, though directed at noncitizens, inevitably swept up communications of Americans as well.
“The Fourth Amendment was written in a different time and a different age, but its necessity and its truth are timeless,” Mr. Paul said, referring to the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. “Over the past few decades, our right to privacy has been eroded. We have become lazy and haphazard in our vigilance. Digital records seem to get less protection than paper records.”