Tech giants press Senate on NSA vote

Tech giants press Senate on NSA vote
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A trade group representing technology giants on Tuesday warned senators that a clean extension of expiring provisions of the Patriot Act would be a missed opportunity to reform the law, even if it is just temporary. 

The Reform Government Surveillance group — which represents companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook — pressed senators to approve a National Security Agency reform bill, which GOP leadership said it would bring up for a vote. 

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"The bill overwhelmingly passed the House with 338 votes," the group said in a letter to senators. "Members from across the political spectrum supported it. Delaying action on reform by extending expiring authorities for two months or any extended period of time would be a missed opportunity."

The bill, which cruised through the house on a 338-88 vote, would end the government’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records, while extending expiring sections of the Patriot Act. The bill, instead, would require the government to seek warrants for specific selection terms to access the data stored with phone companies, among other things.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he would allow a vote on the bill, but it might not have the 60 votes necessary to pass. McConnell and many other Senate Republicans have opposed the bill, and he has introduced a clean two-month extension as an alternative. 

The provisions of the Patriot Act expire on June 1, and the timeline for a deal is unclear. Lawmakers are on break next week, leaving little time to act. The tech group said an extension is not the answer. 

"Our companies came together two years ago to push for essential reforms that are necessary to protect national security, strengthen civil liberties, reaffirm user trust in the Internet, and promote innovation. The Senate can begin delivering on those reforms by passing the USA Freedom Act," the group said in the letter.