Congress reaches compromise on Patriot Act renewal that curbs FBI power

[JURIST] Legislators on Wednesday reached a tentative compromise on the USA Patriot Act and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 [bill summary] that would limit certain law enforcement powers under the statute while making most of the provisions permanent. Following the deal reached by the conference committee, Republican leaders pushed for a vote on the bill on Thursday in the House and by the end of the week in the Senate. Under the draft, the Justice Department would be required to report annually to Congress on its use of national security letters [PDF sample text; ACLU backgrounder], which allow the FBI to obtain people's phone, Internet and business records. The USA Patriot Act [text; JURIST news archive] lowered the threshold needed to be shown by law enforcement to obtain access to the records, requiring only a showing that the records are "relevant" to a terrorist investigation. Several provisions were still scheduled to sunset under the compromise, although Republicans and Democrats appeared to disagree whether the period would be four or seven years. If approved, the bill would mark the first changes to the Act since it was hastily passed following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. AP has more.



 

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