A National Security Agency (NSA) spying program that saw the agency analyzing the domestic call and text logs of U.S. citizens has expired, and the legislation that made it legal may not be renewed when it expires at the end of 2019.
The NSA program began when the agency’s mass monitoring logs of phone calls and texts involving U.S. citizens was revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013 and declared illegal by a federal appeals court.
As reported by 9to5Mac, Congress responded to the hullabaloo in 2015 by passing The Freedom Act, which legalized a revised version of the program. Under the terms of the act, carriers would not hand over mass logs to the NSA, but would instead retain data and hand over specific logs upon receipt of a court order.
The New York Times reports it has been informed by a senior Republican aide that The Freedom Act expired six months ago.
The agency has not used the system in months, and the Trump administration might not ask Congress to renew its legal authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year, according to the aide, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser.
Mr. Murry, who is an adviser for Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, raised doubts over the weekend about whether that debate will be necessary. His remarks came during a podcast for the national security website Lawfare.
Mr. Murry brought up the pending expiration of the Freedom Act, but then disclosed that the Trump administration “hasn’t actually been using it for the past six months.”
“I’m actually not certain that the administration will want to start that back up,” Mr. Murry said.
The program is not known to have prevent any terrorist attacks, and since it hasn’t been renewed a full six months after its expiration, it would be difficult to justify a renewal of the act at this time.
The disclosure that the program has apparently been shut down for months “changes the entire landscape of the debate,” said Daniel Schuman, the policy director of Demand Progress, an advocacy group that focuses on civil liberties and government accountability.
The NYT report can be read in its entirety here.