WASHINGTON—In a 59-37 vote that reauthorized provisions from the 2001 legislation and added several new measures, Congress reportedly passed an updated Patriot Act Wednesday that finally legalized 80% of current FBI operations. “The newly upheld Patriot Act augments current surveillance practices by expanding into several areas where the FBI was already operating,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), adding that the GOP-led Senate struck down an amendment to prohibit warrantless searches of Americans’ internet browsing histories in order to give U.S. intelligence agencies the legal latitude to do what they have already been doing for years. “The original Patriot Act took a huge step in giving legal protection to a lot of traditional FBI tactics that had been illegal up until then. This is an important next step in authorizing the vast majority of illegal FBI operations on the internet, the same way we did with searching on telephones. The men and women of the FBI are just trying to do their jobs, yet have had to operate under conditions where they collect private information and search Americans’ private data while fearing for their careers. These long-overdue reforms should increase the FBI’s productivity since agents won’t have to waste so much time covering their trails or dealing with the occasional lawsuit. Finally, the restrictive measures of previous internet-related legislation will no longer be the circumvented law of the land.” McConnell expressed hope that the remaining 20% of FBI operations not legalized through the expanded Patriot Act would be addressed in an upcoming bill.
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