For the past six months the National Security Agency has not been collecting metadata on Americans’ calls and texts domestically, marking the quiet end to a controversial surveillance program enacted by the 2001 Patriot Act., a congressional aide said Saturday.
“The administration actually hasn’t been using it for the past six months because of problems with the way in which that information was collected,” Luke Murray, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s, R-CA., national security advisor, said during a Lawfare.com podcast. “I’m not actually certain that the administration will want to start that back up given where they’ve been in the past six months.”
The secret program was unmasked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 and prompted an outcry among privacy and civil rights activists, as well as lawmakers. The debate led to new legislation to replace the government’s broad surveillance program with one that required agencies to seek court orders instead.
When Congress voted the USAFreedom Act into law in June 2015, it also conferred a 180-day transition period to ease the move to a targeted surveillance system that will replace the bulk data collection program exposed in 2013 by Snowden.